Starbucks sponsors contest to reduce paper cup use

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 22nd June 2010

Starbucks travel mugStarbucks has congratulated the winners of the betacup innovation challenge, designed to look for ways for the company to reduce paper cup usage.

The winning idea, Karma Cup, suggests a simple chalkboard by the counter, marked once for every reusable cup brought in, with every tenth customer winning a free item.

Starbucks Coffee Company sponsored the contest as part of its aim to serve 100% of its on-demand beverages in reusable or recyclable cups by 2015.

the betacup is a development of Colaboratorie Mutopo, a social product development firm, in a attempt to use crowdsourcing and mass collaboration as a platform for developing ideas.

The contest took place on the betacup’s partner platform, a leading open innovation platform and creative community. Ideas were submitted from April 1 to June 1, 2010, and remained open to the public for discussion and rating through June 15, 2010. The participant who submitted the best idea, determined by an expert panel, will receive a $10,000 cash prize. In addition, participants whose ideas were among the top five selected by the community of collaborators will each be awarded a $2,000 cash prize.

Starbucks provided $20,000 in cash prizes for the contest. The company also offered participants commentary and feedback throughout the contest period.

“We know we can’t solve the disposable cup waste issue alone,” said Jim Hanna, Starbucks director of Environmental Impact. “Consumers can play an important role by sharing creative ideas and spreading the word, as they’ve done with the betacup. It’s this kind of passion and enthusiasm that will help the reusable cup movement gain real momentum.”

In 2009 Starbucks served more than 26 million beverages in reusable cups in its company-owned stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. This simple shift in behavior kept nearly 1.2 million pounds of paper from ending up in landfills.