Two British firms win Starbucks coffee cup innovation challenge

Two British companies have secured funding from the NextGen Cup Challenge, which awards grants to alternative cup designs that could help solve the paper cup waste problem.

Solublue, who make plant-based cups and straws and CupClub, who provide drop off points for single-use cups and lids, will now gain access to a network of experts, business and technical resources as well as receiving grants to scale up their products.

The NextGen Cup Challenge was launched last March after Starbucks partnered with recycling-focused investor group called Closed Loop Partners.

The challenge saw 500 entries from 50 countries, which was narrowed down to 12 after a four-month review process.

The issue of coffee cup waste is a global concern and it’s estimated around 100 billion disposable cups end up in landfill globally each year.

A Solublue spokesperson saidWinning is an amazing opportunity that helps us bring our environmentally friendly product to commercial reality, connecting with world leading companies to scale and improve our manufacturing methods and receiving credibility from pioneering organisations.’

CupClub, added: ‘We’re very excited to win the NextGen Cup Challenge to continue developing an innovative solution to address the global plastics epidemic.

‘The opportunity to work with the consortium partners to set a precedent within the Beverage Industry for reusable and returnable packaging is invaluable to us. We’re looking forward to providing consumers with a convenient and sustainable alternative to single-use packaging that fits into their everyday.’

The 12 Winners of the Challenge

Category One: Innovative Cup Liners

  • C.E.E.R. SCHISLER, France, creates a 100% paper cup that is home compostable and recyclable.
  • Colombier Group, Netherlands, Finland, creates a recyclable and compostable barrier for paperboard cups.
  • Footprint US, USA, creates cups, lids and straws that are fully formed fiber-based solutions, with an aqueous-based coating that is recyclable and compostable.
  • Kotkamills Oy, Finland, creates plastic-free, recyclable and compostable cupstock material that can be processed into cups at existing cup making machines.
  • PTT MCC Biochem Company Limited, Thailand, creates a coated paper cup that is recyclable and home compostable.
  • Solenis LLC, USA, Belgium, creates a barrier coating that is recyclable and compostable.
  • Sun Chemical Corporation, USA, creates inks and coatings that are recyclable and compostable.
  • WestRock Corporation, USA, creates a recyclable and compostable paperboard solution to cups.

Category Two: New Materials

  • Solublue Ltd., UK, creates plant-based, food grade and non-toxic products that biodegrade after use.

Category Three: Reusable Cup Service Models

  • CupClub, UK, operates a returnable cup ecosystem, providing a service for drinks. Think bike sharing, but for cups.
  • reCup GmbH, Germany, operates a deposit system for reusable cups. Rent their cup and return it to any participating partner shop. No cleaning of the cup or carrying around required.
  • Revolv, Indonesia, Hong Kong (China), operates a deposit-based platform for smart, reusable beverage packaging, connecting their cups–and third party products–to Internet of Things technologies.


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