Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


It's one of those maddening problems.

It should be solvable. 

Somehow, though, it's been festering for so long that the whole world is beginning to suffer.

No, I'm not talking about the potential extinction of democracy. 

Instead, we're gathered here today to discuss why Starbucks cups aren't, in fact, recyclable.

Essentially, its cups -- and those of many other fast food emporiums -- enjoy polyethylene plastic liners.

They're there to keep your latte hot. They're also managing to make a large contribution toward wrecking the environment. 

Starbucks has known about this problem for a very long time.

Last year, the chain announced it was finally going to do something about it. It was committing $10 million toward holding a competition in order to find a solution with which the whole world would be happy.

Well, there are around 4 billion of these cups rotting their way into the Earth's innards as we speak.

On Wednesday, however, Starbucks -- and its founding partners at McDonald's, as well as other partners such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, Yum! Brands, and Wendy's -- revealed there are now 12 finalists from 480 entrants in its NextGen Cup Challenge.

They range from a Dutch-Finnish enterprise to create a BioBarrier Coating to a French idea for polyethylene-free Earth Cup to a New Gen BioPBS Coated Cup from Thailand.

There are also reusable solutions.

Of course, Starbucks has made big promises before. The first time it said it would do something was 2008.

Now, environmental organizations such Stand.Earth insist that Starbucks and its corporate cohorts should move rapidly to adopt one of these finalists' solutions.

Stand.Earth seems a touch suspicious, observing: 

Alongside Starbucks' original 2008 pledge to make a recyclable paper cup, the coffee giant also pledged to serve 25 percent of drinks in reusable cups by 2015. Starbucks drastically reduced its commitment in 2011, now pledging to serve 5 percent of drinks in reusable cups by 2022.

I wonder how long it will be before a truly recyclable cup will arrive at my local Starbucks.

I imagine it will come soon after people stop accusing the coffee chain of denigrating religion with its Christmas cups.