This article looks into the The NextGen Cup Consortium. This is a new partnership between Starbucks and McDonalds to solve the problem of a lack of recycling solutions for takeaway drinks cups.


As soon as I saw this, I thought it was a great partnership, that would be good for both parties and help to deliver a sustainable solution at scale.

I think partnerships for sustainability are very important. I have another article about partnerships for the goals which is goal number 17 on the UN SDG’s and you can find this via the link below.


These two companies are fierce competitors, which makes this partnership all the more interesting. They are also open to requests from other companies to join them in their quest to make takeaway cups more sustainable.

I would classify this type of partnership as pre-competitive. This is a type of collaboration between partners who are otherwise competitors, but who agree to share the burden of the early stages of research into a particular area. There is a lot of scope for these types of partnerships to help make sustainability happen. If you would like more information on pre-competitive collaborations and sustainability, please click on the link below, I know I found the article interesting.


The NextGen Cup Consortium aim to achieve their breakthrough with an innovation challenge and accelerator program. They have the following aims

  • Identify and commercialize existing and future recovery solutions for environmentally friendly single-use hot and cold paper cups
  • Ensure disposable cups are recaptured with the highest material value through recycling and/or composting
  • Minimize raw material use
  • Encourage reusability

These are good aims and easily achievable with two of the largest food and drink retailers working on the problem together.

The funding part of the partnership is especially interesting. The challenge is open to suppliers, innovators and solution providers with promising ideas to make the cups more sustainable. Those selected receive grant funding up to $1 million based on key milestones.  Up to seven awardees enter a six-month accelerator program to help scale their solutions. The criteria they are judged on include performance, recoverability, environmental benefits and scalability.

This is a bold move and it is important for companies to realise that ideas for innovation are just as likely to come from outside of their business than inside of it.

What you need to know

This article looked into The NextGen Cup Consortium, which is a new partnership between Starbucks and McDonalds to solve the problem of the unsustainability of takeaway drinks cups.

We looked into the wider narrative, which includes partnerships for the goals, which is goal number 17 on the UN SDG’s.

We explored how even though they are fierce competitors, this type of pre-competitive collaboration can bring about solutions that benefit both parties.

We then looked into the aims and funding parameters of this collaboration.

Overall, this is a promising partnership with the potential to make cups, which seemingly everyone is ranting and raving about more sustainable.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What stands out for you as being a great partnership for sustainability?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby


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