Canadian Plastics

Tim Hortons launches reusable and returnable cup pilot program in Vancouver

The pilot will help evaluate the viability of a broader, permanent program that would allow single-use cups to be collected for recycling at a number of public drop-off points.

May 11, 2022   Canadian Plastics

Photo Credit: CNW Group/Tim Hortons

Fast food restaurant chain Tim Hortons is launching a new pilot project in Vancouver in partnership with Return-It that will give its customers the option of paying a deposit for reusable and returnable paper and plastic cups.

Building on a similar pilot project conducted last year in Ontario, this pilot will allow guests to pay a $4 deposit (plus tax) to borrow a reusable cup from one of 10 participating Tims restaurants. The cup can then be returned at any one of those Tims restaurants or at one of 11 Return-It stations located across Vancouver, including in transit locations and other public spaces. The customers will then receive their deposit back via e-transfer.

Return-It will take on the role of collecting, washing, sanitizing and returning the cups to Tim Hortons so that customers can use them again. Once the pilot wraps up, Tim Hortons officials said in a May 11 news release, results will be analyzed to help evaluate a scalable solution for a reusable cup program that is convenient and helps us work with guests to reduce single-use waste.

“We’re excited to partner with Return-It on this pilot program as we work towards making all of our guest packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable,” said Paul Yang, senior director of innovation and sustainability at Tim Hortons. “Tim Hortons has been testing a number of ways to scale reusable and returnable packaging systems, as well as increase the recyclability of single-use cups. Through this program with industry partners and the City of Vancouver, we hope to learn and develop innovative solutions for the future.”

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The pilot will help evaluate the viability of a broader, permanent program that would allow single-use cups to be collected for recycling at a number of public drop-off points.

“We are excited to be working alongside Tim Hortons and our other partners to make a quantifiable difference in keeping single-use cups out of landfills and to provide consumers with a more convenient option for reusing cups,” said John Nixon, president and CEO of Return-It. “We’re always looking for innovative solutions that will improve recovery rates and benefit British Columbians and this program will hopefully act as a scalable template that can be rolled out in other communities.”


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