Environment & Energy Report

McDonald’s, Starbucks Want Cups to Be Reused, Not Just Recycled

Feb. 18, 2020, 4:00 PM

In the future, when you order a coffee at McDonald’s or Starbucks, it could be served in the same cup you used a few months earlier.

That’s the vision behind pilot programs this week that will introduce two types of “smart” reusable cups in independent coffee shops in San Francisco and Palo Alto, California. The models, made mostly from plastic and outfitted with RFID chips or QR codes for tracking, are the fruit of a two-year “moon shot” project known as the NextGen Cup Challenge, which was led by Starbucks Corp. and McDonald’s Corp.

Those two chains alone blow through billions of paper...

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