CBC’s Marketplace did an investigation into both Tim Hortons and Starbucks’ in-store recycling programs, specifically into its disposable cups. Canadians drink 14 billion cups of coffee every year so that’s a great deal of recylcing opportunity.
To test where the cups ended up — either in a recycling plant or a garbage dump — Marketplace rigged their own cups and put them inside 14 Tim Hortons recycling bins and 14 Starbucks recycling bins. According to the report, “Marketplace staff recovered seven cups from each chain, all of which were in bins for garbage pickup, alongside many other recyclable materials. The other cups could not be located.”
Both companies declined to comment on the study. Apparently, Starbucks wrote, “we commit to recycling all materials identified on our recycling bins and we committed to review recycling actions in stores that offer front-of-store recycling to ensure this is the case.” Tim Hortons stated, “we remain committed to offering tools to assist restaurant owners in consistently implementing the various commercial recycling and waste diversion programs available.”
Tim Hortons and Starbucks’ websites say the following on its recycling programs: “Starbucks is committed to significantly reducing the waste our stores generate — especially when it comes to recycling.”
“Tim Hortons understands that changes in the environment need to be managed and embraces our responsibility to do our part,” the company’s Sustainability and Responsibility Report says. “As we strive to reduce the waste created in every part of our business, one of the most important areas of action is tackling the waste generated at our restaurants.”