ack in September 2018, innovation and design consultancy firm IDEO put out the global call for boundary-pushing sustainable to-go cup designs in their NextGen Cup Challenge. IDEO asked students, entrepreneurs, designers, suppliers, and anyone interested in sustainability to submit their eco-friendly solution to single-use hot and cold fiber cup systems. Submissions could include cups, lids, straws, and alternative delivery systems. Winners of the competition would be eligible to receive up to $1 million in funding to accelerate the growth of their project. Starbucks, McDonald’s, and other industry leaders backed the competition. More than 500 products were submitted to the competition from 50 countries all over the world. After months of review by experts in recycling, composting, and packaging, 12 winners were announced on February 27.
Category One: Innovative Cup Liners
These companies are rethinking the polyethylene plastic liners in cups that can currently make to-go cups difficult to recycle.
Category Two: New Materials
These companies are using cutting-edge, plant-based materials in their cups so that they are compostable.
Category Three: Reusable Cup Service Models
The cups made by these companies aren’t single-use, they just keep cycling—remaining in service by harnessing the power of technology and design.