Like all fast food outlets, Tims is struggling with the issue of waste – cups, lids, styrofoam containers, napkins, etc. – that litters the landscape around such establishments. One part of the solution is to offer reusable travel mugs for sale. Selling merchandise is a revenue stream, but it also helps to cut waste when people reuse their mugs. Great idea. In fact the Tim Hortons website even advertises their travel mugs as being a way to “Help reduce waste.”
Hold on, not so fast.
Right now Tim Hortons has one of their periodic promotions underway. Called Rrroll up the rim, the idea is that every paper cup sold represents a contest entry and has a potential prize notification hidden under the rolled rim of the cup, anything from free coffee to a Honda Civic (but not very many of those). It must be a successful promotion for them because they’ve been doing it for 30 years, and Mac’s Convenience Stores have now copied the idea with their Flip The Lip promotion.
Here’s where it gets stupid. When I stopped at the drive-thru window today and presented my travel mug for filling the server gave me my mug back (filled) and also handed me a new paper cup “So you can roll up the rim.”
So now, even though I am using a travel mug, I also have a completely unused (except for the rolled up rim – and, no, I didn’t win anything) paper cup to dispose of. Makes absolutely no sense. Why not have a scratch card or something similar so those of us who use travel mugs can still participate but not at the cost of additional trash?
Well I posed that question to Tim Hortons some time ago and here is a part of their response:
We have investigated the option of producing an alternative contest entry form to replace the hot drink paper cup. In performing this assessment, we have determined that producing an alternative contest entry form (such as a scratch card) may actually increase our paper waste because it does not decrease the number of hot drink cups printed. Our current system allows our hot drink cups to serve a 'double purpose'. (i.e. as a drink container and as an entry form)There’s an obvious fallacy in their argument in that they seem to be saying they will print the same number of cups whether people reuse travel mugs or not, and therefore, using a travel mug does not, in fact, “Help reduce waste.” Clearly not the case.
Saving the world is really hard some days. Time for a nap.