Open letter to Tim Hortons


Mr. Alexandre Macedo
President of Tim Horton Restaurant Brands International
Tim Hortons Inc
130 King Street West
Toronto Ontario
Canada, M5X 1E1 


Dear Mr. Alexandre Macedo

Zero Waste Canada, the national non-profit organization advocating for Zero Waste, is calling for Tim Hortons to rethink future “Roll Up the Rim” promotions to put the emphasis on promoting coffee not single use disposable cups.

The current “Roll Up the Rim” marketing campaign actively promotes the distribution and consumption of Tim Hortons branded single use coffee cups in a contest that consumers roll up the rim of a single use coffee cup for a chance to win one of over 43 million prizes.

Contest rules state there is a 1 in 6 chance to win a prize and no purchase of coffee or other Tim Hortons products are necessary to win a prize. Rolling up the rim on the single use cup is the main method of participation.

During the marketing promotion of “Roll Up the Rim to Win” from Feb, 6 2019 to April 17 2019 or until there are “no more cups” approximately 300 million single use coffee cups will be distributed to over 4,748 franchised outlets in communities including Northern Pond (Nunavut), The Pas (Manitoba), and Spaniards Bay (Newfoundland).

While the company is focusing on increasing brand loyalty and sales with this initiative, it fails to address the impact of encouraging the consumption of single use cups. Coffee cups are recyclable but often communities do not have accessible or affordable recycling opportunities in their communities. There are significant problems capturing single use coffee cups into recycling or waste programs because of the distance they travel from point of sale. Communities across Canada are struggling with increased costs of litter and street garbage management.

Despite significant reporting regarding the environmental angst these plastic-lined paper cups cause and the shift to an increase in reusable drink-ware, “Roll Up the Rim to Win” continues to ignore its ecological impact. Boosting sales by creating contest cups is promoted far more heavily than the shift to reusable ever has been, in fact part of the marketing strategy of the “Roll Up the Rim” campaign encourages consumers to post pictures of the single use coffee cups on social media.

Tim Hortons has issued statements that the company is working on more sustainable packaging but as the company that sells 8 out of 10 cups of coffee in Canada, franchised outlets continue to flood the country with an unsustainable coffee cup. Changing materials in a cup that may be used once for 12 minutes does not address resource conservation.

As the sixth most influential brand in Canada, Tim Hortons can do more as a change-leader to create positive impacts.  Actively promoting the use of single use coffee cups with a massively promoted contest perpetuates the waste problem. While sponsoring community clean-ups aids volunteers   cleaning up litter; it does not release Tim Hortons from the social responsibility of preventing waste.

Zero Waste Canada recommends Tim Hortons refer to Zero Waste Hierarchy to fully align policies and products to move closer to Zero Waste.

Tim Hortons needs to rethink and redesign future “Roll Up the Rim” promotions to stop promoting the consumption of single use cups. As an iconic Canadian brand it is time to promote the coffee not the branded waste.


Barbara Hetherington
Zero Waste Canada

Zero Waste Canada (ZWC) is a non-profit grassroots organization, dedicated to helping end the age of wasting through better design & education!

Zero Waste Canada works with individuals, businesses and communities across Canada to support continuous reuse of resources and promotes the elimination of landfills and waste-to-energy plants.

We also advocate at all levels of government for responsible resource management and policies, legislation and initiatives that eliminate waste.