Starbucks Testing Recyclable, Compostable Cups

They're testing ideas from an international crowdsourcing competition to come up with more eco-friendly beverage containers

(Images: Starbucks)

Starbucks has made an effort to be a "greener" company, but their cups were always a sticking point.

The paper cups are lined with a plastic that kept them from getting soggy or leaking, but also prevented them from being easily recycled.

Now the company is testing fully compostable and recyclable cups in five cities: New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, and London. The cups look the same as a Starbucks coffee cup, but the inside is lined with biodegradable material instead of plastic, so they can be recycled as paper, or if you throw them in the trash, they'll break down more quickly. If the new cup designs work in those cities, the company will roll out the cups to other markets.

CNN Business says Starbucks came up with the new cup formula as part of something called the NextGen Cup Challenge.

In 2018, Starbucks, McDonald's and Closed Loop Partners, a recycling-focused investor group, asked for solutions for greener cups from the public. In February, the company announced 12 winners, including greener cup liners, barriers and cups themselves.

Now they're ready to test those ideas.

"We want to play a leading role in helping around the sustainability of the planet. And that means serving our coffee in sustainable packaging," CEO Kevin Johnson told CNN Business.

"We think there's a better solution" to plastic cups, Kevin Johnson, Starbucks CEO

Environmental groups, like Greenpeace, would like to see the company take things at step further and invest more in reusable cups. CNN Business says a program that offered customers discounts for bringing their own mugs never caught on. But some of the crowdsourced ideas from the NextGen Challenge involve reusable cup systems, which the company is taking a look at.

Starbucks uses roughly 7 billion cups a year. They've already pledged to phase out plastic straws from their stores by 2020.

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