Unpopular opinion: Tim Hortons edition

By: Madison Ruffo

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.- It’s everyone’s favorite time of year: Roll Up the Rim season. As if it’s a scene straight out of Willy Wonka, Canadians and select Americans start consuming twice as much coffee and throwing back their double-doubles eager to see if they won a car. Tim Hortons claims there is a one-in-six chance of success during this annual promotion, which clearly means you should buy six coffees a day, right? Below are the odds of winning each of the coveted RUTR prizes in the U.S.

Probability of winning each of the available prizes per the 2019 count of RUTR cups produced. Image by Tim Hortons

What people might not consider when they throw away their cup that most likely reads “PLEASE PLAY AGAIN,” is just how much waste is produced through this one promotion. Just in the U.S., 16,225,200 cups are put into circulation for RUTR, and that number is nearly tripled in Canada. That’s at close to 80 million cups and plastic lids that are discarded in just over the span of a month. That’s crazy!

When I came to this realization, I knew I couldn’t be the first one to think of this glaring environmental threat. Sure enough, I am not. Mya Chau, Eve Helman and Ben Duthie – teenagers from Calgarie – have created a change.org petition asking Tim Horton’s to introduce a fully compostable or recyclable paper cup.

In 2016, Ally Frasier of Alberta also launched a petition that requested that Tim’s find a way to allow reusable mug users to participate in the promotion, and it received over 19,000 signatures. Tim Hortons responded to these calls for sustainability with a statement that explained that it wouldn’t save paper to print out scratch-off cards to accommodate them in addition to their standard circulation of cups.

Personally, I am not satisfied with their response nor their efforts toward sustainability. Yes, Tim Hortons, like any other business, has a business model to follow and a certain way of doing things. However, climate change is imminent and requires a collective effort on the individual and manufacturing level. We can no longer push off climate change until it is our problem because it is our problem now.

Tim Hortons is not the only company we can point fingers at – Dunkin’ still uses Styrofoam cups in this area – but as a popular chain in WNY they should be leading by example. While I know Tim Hortons cannot just stop producing cups at the drop of a hat, they can make an effort toward saving our planet by discontinuing the Roll Up the Rim promotion and stop encouraging consumers to create more waste. Additionally, the simple introduction of biodegradable paper cups, lids and straws can make a positive impact on the planet and inspire the local Tim Horton’s community to go green.

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