Starbucks Seeks a Biobased Solution

Starbucks just announced an ambitious plan to replace its disposable paper and plastic coffee cup with a fully recyclable or compostable cup within three years, a plan the coffee giant described as a “moonshot for sustainability.”

Starting on March 20, Starbucks has committed $10 million in partnership with Closed Loop Partners and its Center for the Circular Economy.

“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 continued: “Through the NextGen Cup Challenge, the consortium will award accelerator grants to entrepreneurs working on ideas that could lead to the development of more sustainable cup solutions and, invite industry participation and partnership on the way to identifying a global solution.”

Here in Maine, our pulp and paper industry is innovating to help meet the rising global demand for biobased packaging that has fewer inputs from petrochemical raw materials. This February, Verso announced a $17 million investment to restart a pulping line and paper machine as its Jay, Maine mill to manufacture packaging products. And in 2017, Sappi announced plans to invest $165 million in its Skowhegan mill to diversify its production to include a range of consumer packaging products.

Demand for biobased products is rising among consumers and major brands like Starbucks, and Biobased Maine aims to increase Maine’s ability to meet this growing demand.