The Return-It to ReUse-It and Recycle-It Cups Program Expands in Vancouver
Return-It along with partners and the City of Vancouver are excited to announce the expansion of the Return-It to Reuse-It and Recycle-It cup program in Vancouver. Launched as a pilot in 2022, the program introduced a reusable Tim Hortons cup that consumers sign up to use and return to one of the drop-off bins. Once the reusable cups are returned, they are washed and redistributed to retail locations for reuse. In addition to the reusable cup program, the pilot also sought to keep single-use cups out of landfills by giving consumers a convenient place to recycle them in commercial and on-street locations.
“At Return-It, our social purpose is to foster a world where nothing is waste. The Return-It to ReUse-It and Recycle-It cup program is the perfect example of our social purpose come to life,” said Cindy Coutts, President and CEO of Return-It. “We’re proud to work with our brand partners on a program that promotes reuse, recycling and a zero-waste future.”
One of our new cup program outdoor bins on the corner of Broadway and Granville pictured above.
With the pilot program successfully working as a collection point for reusable cups and diverting single-use cups from the trash, all participants from the pilot (with the exception of McDonald’s Canada) knew it made sense to not only continue the program but expand it. The expansion of the program in the City of Vancouver will see an additional 8 collection bins, bringing the total number of bins to 27 (see locations). The bins are all placed within high pedestrian traffic areas, transit hubs and near other waste diversion stations, making it easy for consumers to return their reusable Tim Hortons cups or recycle their single-use cups in the dedicated bins.
“We’re proud to partner with Return-It in continuing to work toward building solutions that reduce our use of single-use cups and make reusable alternatives more convenient and accessible for all Canadians,” said Paul Yang, Senior Director, Procurement, Sustainability and Packaging at Tim Hortons. “This expansion will help us deliver more impact in Vancouver and continue to inform the development of our national strategies.”
“Our goal is to become resource-positive for the future and cut our waste footprint by half by 2030,” said Ross Anderson, Head of Social Impact, Public Policy and Sustainability at Starbucks Canada. “We work alongside our communities to help protect the planet and our support for this program, plus our unwavering commitment to make it easier for customers to use their reusable cups at Starbucks, are some of the several initiatives underway to create new and scalable solutions that will reduce single-use cup waste and have a positive impact on our future.”
"At A&W our commitment to our zero-waste journey is unwavering. From A&W's iconic frosted mugs, to being the first QSR in North America to launch a national exchangeable cup program, we have a long history of tackling single-use cup waste. We're so excited to see the expansion of this program and the collective effort to divert single-use cups from landfills," Angela Griffiths, VP of Food Safety, Animal Welfare and Environment.
After initially launching the program as a pilot, Return-It has continually looked for opportunities to learn and make improvements within the program. The first thing Return-It did was to change from using traditional delivery trucks to an e-bike courier service, SHIFT, which offered a more environmentally friendly solution to help further reduce greenhouse gas emissions while servicing the bins. Another change to the program came from the knowledge gained from customers using the bins themselves. The bins have been redesigned to be more user-friendly for those making the right choice when dropping off their reusable cups and when recycling their single-use cups. Many other learnings from the pilot program have been implemented and new learnings will be applied to continually improve the program.
“We are very pleased to continue our collaboration with Return-It (and its partners) in supporting reuse and recycling options for single-use cups in Vancouver.” says Jonathan McDermott, City of Vancouver’s Director of Solid Waste Management. “The expansion of the pilot program to 27 locations is an extremely positive sign that Vancouver residents, and participating retailers, are embracing low waste alternatives in an effort to reduce litter and keep single-use cups out of the landfill.”
For reusable cups, once consumers scan a QR code at the bin and return the cup, they are picked up by local transporter SHIFT using electric tricycles and brought to a wash plant, repacked and redistributed to Tim Hortons cafés and put back into circulation. The single-use cups and lids are transported to local processors and recycled with other paper material and plastics. This cup program aimed at reuse and recycling exemplifies Return-It's belief in fostering a world where nothing is waste. In collaboration with our major brand partners, we are creating a better future for people, communities and our planet.
For more information on the cup program and collection bin locations, visit the Return-It to ReUse-It and Recycle-It program page.
Interested in joining the cup program in Vancouver? If you’re a brand owner selling coffee or hot or cold beverages in Vancouver and are interested in becoming a Cup Program partner in Vancouver, visit our website to learn more about how you can join the program and help get us achieve a greener future.
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