Tim Hortons launches waste reduction projects

Tim Hortons celebrated Waste Reduction Week by announcing three sustainability initiatives .

It is partnering with WestRock to launch a test of a new hot beverage cup design in January at some Vancouver locations. The test will try cups that are made with up to 20 percent post-consumer recycled content and are compostable and recyclable.

This design allows a greater proportion of the cup’s paper fibre to be recovered in the repulping process. The aim is to drive better economics for those that collect and repurpose post-consumer material and could help more recycling programs across Canada to accept Tims cups. Currently, Tim Hortons hot beverage cups can be recycled in British Columbia and in some municipalities in other provinces.

“We’re proud to be taking this next step on our journey to develop cups that can be recycled anywhere in Canada, or that are compostable,” said Paul Yang, Senior Director of Sustainability and Packaging for Tim Hortons.

“We will be working with government and industry stakeholders across Canada to share the results of the trial. We want to share our progress so we can work together toward developing the best solutions for everyone to use for a more sustainable future.”

This latest design builds off previous work that separately tested cups made with post-consumer recycled materials, and cups that featured a liner that was compostable or recyclable. This trial is testing a cup that is compostable or recyclable while also utilizing recycled materials.

AI-assisted recycling technology

Tim Hortons is piloting artificial intelligence-assisted technology at 12 restaurants across Canada with the goals of providing recycling and composting education for guests and driving increased recycling and diversion rates.

Through a partnership with Vancouver-based Intuitive AI, waste bins at 12 restaurants across Canada will be equipped with a screen and product image recognition technology to identify packaging items that guests scan. The screen provides guidance to guests on whether the items they scanned can be recycled or go into the compost bin or should go in the waste bin.

The test period will begin with an analysis of how guests are currently using the waste, recycling and compost bins in select restaurants before the on-screen guidance is turned on. The technology is currently installed at test restaurants in Vancouver and will be added to select restaurants in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia before the end of the year.

Pilot project with Loop

Tim Hortons is also partnering with TerraCycle’s zero-waste platform Loop to pilot a program that will give guests the option of paying a deposit and receiving reusable and returnable cups or food containers.

The pilot is launching on Nov. 1 at five restaurants in Burlington, Ont. with returnable cup and food containers available for customers to use for a $3 deposit per item. Deposits will be refunded via the Loop mobile app, which must be registered with a bank account.

Customers can use any of the return bins located at the five participating restaurants to return their reusable cups or food containers. All returned containers are washed and sanitized before they become available to be reused.

“Through this test we’ll start learning how people respond to a reusables and returnable packaging system – what they like or don’t like – with the aim of refining a system that is seamless and enjoyable for more guests in more cities in the future,” said Yang.