Fast food giant McDonald’s announced today that it is joining the efforts of Starbucks and Closed Loop Partners to spur development of a recyclable and/or compostable cup. The golden arches will contribute $5 million to Closed Loop’s NextGen Cup Consortium, which follows the $10 million Starbucks committed to the project back in March.

According to Closed Loop Partners, which invests in sustainable consumer goods and recycling technology and launched the Center for the Circular Economy, 600 billion paper and plastic cups are distributed worldwide each year. To help combat that waste, Closed Loop developed the NextCup Consortium and Challenge, an accelerator program to identify and commercialize “recovery solutions for environmentally friendly single-use hot and cold paper cups.”

The NextCup Challenge launches in September of this year and is “open to suppliers, innovators and solution providers with promising ideas to recover single use cups.” Awardees will get a grant of up to $1 million and will enter a six month accelerator program to scale up their solutions. Those interested can find out more here.

Five million dollars is a rounding error for a company like McDonald’s which had revenue of $5.14 billion in the first quarter of this year. But it’s a positive step for the company, which has 37,000 locations worldwide supersizing drinks on a daily basis, to join the public chorus about the negative impacts of single use cups and straws on the environment.

Reducing drink waste has become a hot topic during this hot summer, and with good reason. Plastic is junking up our oceans and becoming a huge environmental problem. Last week Starbucks announced that it would be phasing out single use plastic straws in all of its 28,000 locations by 2020. Celebrities are rallying against straws and cities at home and abroad are enacting plastic straw bans.

All this focus on waste reduction? I’m lovin’ it, and can’t wait to see more of it.

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