Coffee is one of those things that people are very serious about. I don’t even drink coffee, but scads of people do. Which is why the Roll up the Rim to Win promotion is smart. Smart in a “how can we get people to buy more coffee/tea/hot chocolate than they will drink” kinda way.

In the last two days, I have done a lot of walking and have encountered numerous Tim Hortons’ paper cups along the way. Laying on the street, on the sidewalk, in parking lots, on the bus, and falling out of full trash cans. There is no shortage of coffee cups.


The truth is that disposable coffee cups should be a last resort. Much like a plastic bag has become. People have caught on that they should bring their own bags and, in combination with having to pay for bags at most retailers, habits have been changed.

One of the biggest problems with the Roll up the Rim to Win promotion is that customers are not being encouraged to bring their own cups and many who usually do use a reusable mug (check out these great options) are basically rewarded for leaving it at home. It has been acknowledged that many who wanted a chance to win a car would purchase a coffee (and not drink it) just to participate. Tim Hortons has recently provided Canadians with a chance to win a car through an online program, but the chances of winning and variety of prizes are much slimmer. Plus, they still offer millions of promo cups a day.


Considering Tim Hortons sells over 3 million cups of coffee A DAY and most of those are in disposable cups, there is great potential to be an industry leader and get creative with this popular promotion. There have been many initiatives aimed at Tim Hortons to encourage them to reduce their waste. (Don’t get us wrong, there are many other businesses responsible for the incredible amount of disposables being produced. But, in Canada, Tim Hortons is the biggest source of waste with close to 8 out of 10 cups coming from their establishment). Like Recycle the Rim,  focused on Tim Hortons taking responsibility for recycling their cups. Refill to Win focused on Tim Hortons holding a more sustainable promotion where people who use reusable cups are rewarded with a chance to win.


With a powerful ad/marketing team, we’re pretty sure Tim Hortons can come up with a more sustainable way to reward their loyal customers. At the very least, with all the money Tim Hortons makes it could afford to take some responsibility for the waste created by consuming their product and accept their cups back for recycling. A big first step would be for the customers to demand a more sustainable program/option. We always say that people can vote with their dollars, and this is no different.

In addition to recycling, reusing and reducing, we’d like Manitobans to consider one other ‘R’ – refusing; and this would be a great place to start. Bring your mug and let the manager know you’d still like the same opportunity to win a donut as anyone else (please don’t let them give you a disposable mug just to play!). Or visit another coffee shop that is locally owned and sources ethical coffee. Other promotions like the one Safeway holds where you scratch to win are great opportunities for you to refuse contributing to unnecessary waste. Take a look around Winnipeg, are discarded single use coffee cups the decor you’d like to see while you are out and about?

And don’t even get us started on the drive thru’s.