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McDonald's, Starbucks Focus on Reusable Cups

RFID and QR codes are among the technologies supporting a two-year project known as the NextGen Cup Challenge.
By Edson Perin
Mar 04, 2020

An article published by Bloomberg (see Don't Toss That Cup: McDonald's and Starbucks Are Developing Reusables) reports what is already widely known in the Internet of Packaging sector: that radio frequency identification, QR code and digital printing technologies can, in addition to offering several business resources, assist in brands' sustainability. This facilitates environmentally friendly operations such as recycling.

The initiative, known as CupClub, involves reusable coffee cups that are intended to replace the disposable ones thrown away by billions of people every year. The project's goal is that consumers in the future, when ordering coffee at McDonald's or Starbucks restaurants, will be able to be served via the same cup they'd used during prior visits.

This, according to the Bloomberg story, underlies a two-year pilot called the NextGen Cup Challenge, led by Starbucks and McDonald's. The test will introduce two types of reusable and smart cups in coffee shops throughout San Francisco and Palo Alto, Calif. The new cups are mainly composed of plastic and feature RFID or QR codes for the purpose of identification and tracking.

The two companies use billions of paper cups annually (the exact number is not revealed in the article), most of which are lined with plastic, making them almost impossible to recycle. "Eliminating this waste would help a lot toward achieving the environmental goals set by each company," says Bloomberg's Emily Chasan. The NextGen group also plans to try some disposable compostable and recyclable cups in Oakland.

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