Tim Horton's annual contest just got a lot greener

The Canadian coffee giant has redesigned Roll Up the Rim to encourage reusable cups.

The people have spoken and, amazingly, the corporation has listened! Canada’s popular coffee shop Tim Horton’s just announced progressive measures to reduce waste during its annual Roll Up the Rim to Win contest that lasts for one month each winter.

I wrote last year that “people have been going crazy for this contest since 1986. They buy multiple drinks at a time in order to increase their chances of winning, ask for their coffee in double-layered cups, and make a point of buying daily for as long as the contest lasts.” Because the rim of a disposable coffee cup must be rolled up to reveal a prize, the contest has traditionally excluded anyone trying to reduce waste by using a reusable cup.

A petition created by two Canadian teens circulated last year, asking Tim Horton’s to redesign their contest and find ways to reduce waste and encourage sustainability, and now the company has done exactly that, using a number of their suggestions. Its iconic Roll Up the Rim cups will only be available for the first half of the four-week contest, with the number of rolls (chances at winning) doubled if the Tim Horton’s app or a registered Rewards Card is used simultaneously. For the second half of the contest, people can only use the app in order to participate, or ‘roll’, and chances of winning will triple if they’ve brought a reusable cup.

Sarah King, head of Oceans and Plastics Campaign for Greenpeace Canada, praised the move in a press release:

“We are pleased to see that Tim Hortons is committing to go beyond the disposable cup by incentivizing its customers to use reusables during its Roll Up the Rim contest. We need a mass culture shift away from single-useness, and we need major companies to drive it. We encourage Tim Hortons to act swiftly to take this positive step to the next level and commit to reduce its plastic footprint once and for all to address its role in the growing waste and pollution crisis.”

In 2019 Tim Horton’s created 260,000,000 single-use coffee cups for its Roll Up the Rim contest, out of a total 2 billion cups sold annually. Their cups are no different from every other coffee chain’s, made with a thin layer of oil-based polyethylene that prevents hot liquids from soaking the paper, but makes them nearly impossible to recycle.

There will probably be some disgruntled customers who aren’t happy at having the contest change so drastically after 35 years of the same thing, but it’s one of those pleasant situations in which the customer has a strong incentive to embrace the change, and Tim Horton’s has nothing to lose by enforcing it. Well done, Tim Horton’s, and thank you for listening to Canadians who know we can all do better.

The Canadian coffee giant has redesigned Roll Up the Rim to encourage reusable cups.

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