Tim Hortons is defending its use of paper cups after a Fredericton man announced his plans to photograph and pick up discarded coffee cups for the next year.

Chafic Haddad is promising to pick up abandoned coffee cups and photograph them until the end of 2012.

The amateur photographer said he hopes his project serves as a reminder to people not to toss their used cups on the ground.

Tim Hortons coffee cups are the most photographed cups so far in Haddad’s collection.

Greg Smith, the senior manager of marketing for Tim Hortons in Atlantic Canada, said he thinks Haddad’s project is commendable as it tries to expose the issue of coffee cup litter.

But the coffee company representative said the project may not cause many people to avoid using paper cups in the future. Smith said customer habits are hard to change.

'They become very comfortable with that paper cup, or with what they're currently using, so getting them to change that mindset is a big challenge.' —Greg Smith, Tim Hortons

"They become very comfortable with that paper cup, or with what they're currently using, so getting them to change that mindset is a big challenge," Smith said.

"I think the work that's being done with this sort of project will open eyes and get people to think differently about what they do."

Smith said Tim Hortons charges customers 10 cents less per cup of coffee, if they bring their own reusable mug.

The company also tries to encourage customers to return paper cups to the stores for recycling.

The coffee giant has also looked at biodegradable cups, but hasn't found a way to make it work.

Haddad said he would like the project to encourage cities, such as Fredericton, to reconsider where they locate their wastebins.

"I'd like to work with the city or the mayor if possible, if he would talk to me about it, maybe even some local coffee shops, or even the McDonalds and Tim Horton's in town," Haddad said on Thursday.

"If we can come together and find an innovative solution to reducing the amount of coffee cup waste, that would be great. I would love to see that."

Haddad started taking photographs of used cups in 2008, but he decided to start picking them up on Jan. 1.

The Fredericton man said he toured Europe recently and said he found very few coffee cups littering the ground.