Roll-Up to Pollution

It is that time of year again in Canada – not Valentine’s Day, not tax day, but Roll Up the Rim to Win time. This is a beloved Canadian season where the coffee-chain Tim Hortons runs a contest with their beverage containers.

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Photo credit: St. Thomas Times Journal 

The contest is straightforward. Every cup you purchase, you get a chance to roll up the rim of the cup to see if you won a prize – such as a car, a gift card, or another cup of coffee.

As an environmentalist, I hate this season.

Looking at 2017 data, we know that 294 million cups were produced for the contest. We know that 0 of these cups are recyclable. Yes, those cups are NOT recyclable. I know that there are recycling bins at Tim Hortons that lead you to believe the cups can be recycled, but those containers are for plastic bottles only.  Don’t be fooled.

Your odds of winning anything in this contest are pretty slim. For the car, you have a 1 in 7.5 million chance. Of course, your chance of winning another non-recyclable cup is about 1 in 6.

If you normally use a refillable coffee mug pat yourself on the back. But, during this season Tim Hortons’ fills your cup and then gives you a non-recyclable cup to roll-up and throw out.

This contest represents terrible consumerism and waste. At least 294 million cups are going to a landfill during this contest. Yes, Tim Hortons would be producing cups anyway during this time. But sales increase during the contest (people buy more cups more often) and people stop using reusable mugs – or people who do use them get a throw-away cup.

It needs to stop. Certainly, Tim Hortons can give scratch cards to people who use refillable cups. Or they can just give scratch cards to everyone who buys a cup to play the game. The contest has been running for almost 35 years – it is ingrained in every Canadian. We promise to still call-it “Roll up the Rim to Win” as we scratch our cards and talk about the company’s green conscience.

In the meantime, I suggest you skip the roll-up craze this year. I know it is tempting. We all love a contest. We all love Tim Horton’s. But this is one game where we all lose.

 

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