Two of the world's biggest fast food companies, McDonald's and Starbucks, just teamed up in a new environmental partnership that takes their commitments to reducing plastic waste to a whole new level.
Photo: Peter Pham // Foodbeast
McDonald's just announced that it has joined its coffee titan rival on the NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge, where the two will both support efforts to develop food packaging that reduces plastic waste. First amongst these efforts is work on a recyclable or compostable cup that can be used for both hot and cold beverages. Starbucks joined the Consortium, run by Closed Loop Partners, earlier this year.
The two mega-corporations won't be conducting the research themselves, but their funding to the NextGen Cup Challenge will go to the winners of a challenge to develop the reusable cup solution. The challenge launches this September, and solutions can be awarded up to $1 million based on "key milestones," according to a press release. Up to seven teams will be placed in a six-month accelerator program afterwards to scale up their solutions for potential usage by both companies.
Other efforts in the future will include solutions for lids and straws, two other major sources of plastic waste by the fast food industry. Starbucks just launched a commitment to remove all straws by 2020, so their partnership with McDonald's as part of NextGen will be crucial to making that happen.
While only two of fast food's largest names are involved in the Consortium, its efforts could have lasting implications for the entire industry. The companies that develop the reusable cup, lid, and straw solutions would have the ability to service multiple businesses if successful thanks to the accelerator program and initial funding. Thus, it may not be long before the entire fast food industry moves off of plastic.