The Paper Coffee Cup

Starbucks Issues a $10M Challenge: Design an Eco-friendly Coffee Cup - USATODAY

Excerpt from USATODAY

In an age of drones, robots and virtual reality, Starbucks announced Tuesday it is sponsoring a challenge aimed at revolutionizing a decidedly low-tech product - the paper coffee cup.

It's hoping scientists, chemists or just everyday tinkerers and thinkers can come up with a coffee cup that's compostable, breaking down in a way that it basically disappears from the waste stream, or one becomes a component in another product.

The problem isn't just the paper, but the cup's lining.

Inventing a truly eco-friendly coffee cup is no small feat and the stakes are huge. Consumers go through an estimated 600 billion paper and plastic cups per year worldwide. Starbucks says its coffee drinkers and other customers account for about 1%, which would be somewhere around 6 billion.

The $10-million NextGen Cup Challenge initiative was announced on Tuesday in conjunction with Closed Loop Partners' Center for the Circular Economy, which promotes sustainable consumer goods and recycling. Inventors working on an answer to the disposable cup conundrum will receive grants.

"This is the first step in the development of a global end-to-end solution that would allow cups around the world to be diverted from landfills and composted or given a second life as another cup, napkin or even a chair – anything that can use recycled material," Starbucks said.

Starbucks paper cups currently are made with 10% post-consumer recycled fiber, according to the company.

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