Published 2 years ago.
About a 5 minute read.
The NextGen Consortium and its partner brands are expanding their work to advance reusable packaging systems, strengthen recycling and composting infrastructure, and scale foodservice packaging innovation.
Today, Closed Loop Partners announced an additional $10 million commitment
from the NextGen Consortium’s
founding partners, Starbucks and McDonald’s, to continue the
Consortium’s work: identifying, accelerating and scaling commercially viable,
circular foodservice packaging solutions. The Coca-Cola Company also
increased its commitment to now participate as a sector lead partner. JDE
Peet’s, Wendy’s and Yum! Brands will continue their participation as
supporting partners in the Consortium — which continues to invite other brands
to join the effort.
“Starbucks’ work with the NextGen Consortium has been an important part of our
ongoing efforts to reduce single-use cup
part of our larger goal to reduce waste sent to landfills by 50 percent by
2030,” said Michael Kobori, Chief Sustainability Officer at Starbucks.
“There has never been a more critical time for industry collaboration to shift
away from single-use packaging, promote reusability, and champion recyclability.
We are thrilled to continue our work with the NextGen Consortium to drive
sustainable solutions for our planet.”
Since 2018, the NextGen Consortium has been working to advance sustainable
packaging innovation and recycling infrastructure to help end foodservice
packaging waste — with an initial focus on redesigning the single-use hot and
cold fiber cup. The Consortium’s NextGen Cup Challenge sourced 480 solutions
globally to redesign the cup, selecting 12
winning solutions in 2019 across three areas: innovative cup & cup liners, new materials, and
reusable service models. Since then, the Consortium has continued to advance the
development of innovative cup and cup liner innovations; and its Circular
supported six early-stage teams to help test and refine their solutions.
In 2019 and 2020, Accelerator teams tested four of the solutions at a large tech
company’s campus and piloted them across 14 local, independent cafes in the
San Francisco Bay area. These solutions received valuable feedback from
customers, restaurants and other key stakeholders. Drawing on insights from
those pilots, in January the Consortium released a first-of-its-kind report,
Packaging Systems to Life — which included a blueprint
and open-source resource to encourage collaboration and the growth of reuse
models. The Consortium also continued its work across the broader foodservice
packaging value chain, conducting dozens of in-depth tests with recyclers,
material labs and paper mills to evaluate the performance, recyclability and
recoverability of the fiber cup solutions.
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“Through NextGen, we’ve made great progress in growing more sustainable
packaging solutions, and there is a lot more work to be done. Faced with
increasing climate risks, eco-conscious customers and a resource-constrained
world, the foodservice industry must double down on its efforts and band
together to strategically tackle the mounting waste challenge,” said Kate
Daly, Managing Director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop
Partners. “Starbucks, McDonald’s and other partners in the Consortium make clear
their commitment to collaboratively accelerate more circular foodservice
packaging solutions, and we encourage stakeholders — from packaging
manufacturers to recyclers to designers — to join us in advancing NextGen
With the additional $10 million in funding, the Consortium will expand its
efforts, including and beyond the fiber cup, to strengthen the sustainable
packaging ecosystem. The Consortium will deepen its customer research and
testing of reusable packaging systems, explore the circularity of additional
packaging materials such as polypropylene (PP); and accelerate the development
of more widely recyclable and compostable fiber-based packaging solutions, as
well as the infrastructure pathways needed for their recovery.
The Consortium’s increased focus on PP is driven by the growing demand for
recycled PP in foodservice packaging, and the need to optimize recycling
infrastructure for the material. In 2020, the Consortium joined The Recycling
Partnership’s Polypropylene Recycling Coalition — part of The Partnership’s
initiative — as a Steering Committee member, collaborating to allocate millions
of dollars in grants to recycling facilities to improve polypropylene recycling.
Image credit: McDonald's/Loop
Individual waste-mitigation efforts by Starbucks and McDonald’s further bolster
the Consortium’s work to accelerate sustainable packaging innovation, foster
more robust recovery opportunities for packaging, and develop, enhance and
optimize emerging reuse models.
continues to innovate to encourage the use of personal reusable cups in stores,
most recently in partnership with Ocean
and will continue to test and learn from programs geared toward reducing
single-use cups around the world. McDonald’s has also made strides toward reuse,
to pilot reusable cups in the chain’s UK
and continues to make tremendous progress in ensuring its packaging comes from
renewable, recycled or certified sources.
Adoption at scale by two international foodservice chains the size of McDonald’s
and Starbucks could be a great start to a much-needed shift away from disposable
to reusable utensils and packaging in the industry. Nearly 1 trillion disposable
takeout containers, bags, boxes, condiment packets, plastic utensils, napkins,
and cold and hot cups and lids are used each year in the US alone — costing
restaurants and food-service businesses $24 billion per year to purchase, and
costing businesses and city governments $6 billion a year in solid-waste
management costs. According to a recent report from
trading out disposables for reusables can also save foodservice companies $5
billion a year in procurement costs and avert 7.5 million tons of materials
from landfills and waterways annually.
“With approximately 11 million metric tons of plastic waste ending up in our
oceans every year, we need to bring circular packaging solutions to the table.
We know that to tackle this massive, shared challenge, all stakeholders have to
be involved,” says Erin Simon, Head of Plastic Waste + Business at World
Wildlife Fund — an environmental advisory partner for the Consortium. “The
NextGen Consortium can play an important role in catalyzing the collaboration we
need by enabling cross-sector partnerships and open-source insight sharing, and
we are proud to be a partner in this important work.”
Moving forward, even greater collaboration among businesses, industry groups,
nonprofits and others will be needed to solve systemic waste challenges. Through
the expanded commitment of the NextGen Consortium, the multi-year collaboration
will continue to work across the value chain — with global brands,
municipalities, NGOs, recyclers and manufacturers — to advance viable market
solutions that scale throughout the supply chain and bring value to recovery
Published Oct 20, 2021 9am EDT / 6am PDT / 2pm BST / 3pm CEST