• Woman's hands holding Starbucks mug

Two Calgary 6th-graders whose petition asking Starbucks to create a fully recyclable coffee cup went viral this month have gotten their wish.

On Tuesday, as 12-year-old Mya Chau and 11-year-old Eve Helman and their parents arrived in Seattle to present their petition to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, the company announced it is committing $10 million to establish a consortium, together with Closed Loop Partners' Center for the Circular Economy, to launch the NextGen Cup Challenge

Through the challenge, the consortium will award grants to entrepreneurs and innovators working on designs for a more sustainable coffee cup. The goal is to one day bring to market a cup that can be recycled or composted — and not just sold at Starbucks. 

“The solution will be open source to make sure this technology is available to everyone, because it’s the right thing to do,” says Tim Gallant, senior communications manager, public affairs for Starbucks Canada. “It’s not just a Starbucks issue. It’s a global issue.”

The company is also testing a new bio-liner for its paper cups, made from plant-based material rather than plastic, and is encouraging municipalities to develop recycling infrastructure that can handle disposable coffee cups. 

While in Seattle, Chau and Helman met with CEO Johnson and presented their petition, and say they are happy with the response from Starbucks. But, they also had a message for everyday Canadian coffee consumers: the easiest way to keep coffee cups out of the landfill is to remember to bring your reusable mug.