Nova Scotia

Tim Hortons urged to green up its roll up the rim contest

As Canadians roll up the rim, some people are saying the company should offer more environmentally friendly options for the popular contest.

'We know that with this contest, it increases the number of disposable cups that get used'

To participate in the roll up the rim contest, participants can't use their own reusable cups, but must instead use disposable cups produced by Tim Hortons. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

As Canadians roll up the rim, some people are saying Tim Hortons should offer more environmentally-friendly options for the popular contest.

This year's contest launched on Feb. 6 and is supposed to run until April 17 or once the roughly 300 million disposable paper contest cups run out, whichever comes first.

"We know that with this contest, it increases the number of disposable cups that get used and we know from community cleanups that Tim Hortons cups are often found on our streets, at beaches, in nature, at parks, and that's a problem," said Mark Butler, policy director at the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre.

To participate in the contest, people must purchase a drink from the retailer and they can then roll up the lip on the disposable cup to see if they've won a prize. Participants have a one in six chance of winning coffee and food prizes. People who bring in their own reusable cups can't participate.

Butler said the preferred option from a sustainability standpoint would be to use reusable cups, while the second option would be for the Tim Hortons cups to be compostable.

He said coffee shops are increasingly using compostable cups.

"It can be done and it's time to do it," said Butler.

Sylvain Charlebois, a professor at Dalhousie University specializing in food distribution and policy, said the contest could be made more environmentally friendly by giving participants a number they could then check online to see if they won.

"Tim Hortons is a big producer of waste," said Charlebois.

Dalhousie University professor Sylvain Charlebois says more and more Canadians are concerned about the environmental impact of roll up the rim. (Radio-Canada)

Tim Hortons did not respond to a request for comment for this story, but recently told the Canadian Press the company is working on a packaging strategy to reduce its environmental footprint. It also offers china dishes for customers eating in its shops and has discounts for customers who bring their own reusable cups.

"Working closely with industry, Tim Hortons will also begin testing a new, strawless lid in 2019 and increasing the amount of recycled content in our packaging," spokesperson Jane Almeida wrote in an email.

Mike Murray says he'd be willing to pay more at Tim Hortons if they used compostable cups. (Radio-Canada)

Tim Hortons has had some electronic components of its game, including Scroll Up the Rim to Win, which was introduced last year on the company's mobile app. The prizes on the app version were limited to coffee and doughnuts, while the prizes available on coffee cups include cars.

Haligonian Mike Murray visits Tim Hortons every day or two for a tea. He would like to see Tim Hortons offer compostable cups.

"I would imagine it would boost the price a little bit, but at the end of the day and in the long run, it will likely be a whole lot more worthy for the environment," he said.

With files from Paul Legere and the Canadian Press