Recycling Timmy’s

I am happy to say that I’ve slightly influenced my good friend Marta to be more green. She used to be the one making fun of me with all my talk on the environment, now she’s the one upset about throwing away receipts from Rexall.

So the other day while out on our daily afternoon Timmy’s run, I was pleased when she got upset about throwing away our Timmy’s cups. “Why don’t people recycle these? They’re paper!” True. Timmy’s cups are paper, but are they recyclable? This question itched at me when I got back to the office and so I did a little search on the topic. Turns out, Timmy’s cups can be recycled but only in certain cities.

Windsor, for example, accepts Tim Hortons cups in its blue boxes and Hamilton takes the cups at its organic composting plant, said Javor. But Toronto says its technology can’t process the cups’ wax lining.

I’m obviously not the first to notice the Timmy’s trash around me. The CBC just reported last week that Timmy’s cups account for 22% of all the litter in Nova Scotia. Talk about extreme! So, yes, a lot of people/groups are pushing the Canadian icon to think about their environmental impact. The company too has come up with some anti-litter programs to try and improve their image and they’re also researching some other ways to change the cup to a corn starch lining although there are some issues with that too.

But here’s my question. Do the people in Windsor know that they can recycle Timmy’s cups? Does Timmy’s have recycling bins for their cups available at the store? What’s the holdup with the rest of the cities’ recycling depots?

And then maybe the bigger question is: How much do we really know about what’s recyclable and what’s not?

The City of Ottawa site has some interesting stats on recycling and although it’s pretty detailed, I’d like to know who researches that site in detail. Honestly, I think I know what goes into the blue box and the black box but some things are definitely questionable, and (honesty kicks in here) but I definitely don’t check that site everytime I have a questionable item.

Now here’s the next question (yep, full of questions now…) when a container is contaminated with a non-recyclable, does the whole bin get chucked? I was horrified to find out that Carleton’s recycling program wasn’t really that much of a recycling program. Because a lot of people were careless as to what went in, the people looking after the bins at the end of the day would be careless too. I’ve seen the maintenance guys pick up the garbage and the recycling bags and drop them into the same bin. Glad to know that my effort pulled through…

It’s getting late but I can think of some solutions for the recycling issue.

BETTER MARKETING! (Surprise, surprise…this post is coming from a marketing student;)

Tell me exactly what’s recyclable and what’s not. The city should constantly be trying to expand their product list to include the non-recyclables and then INFORM us of this change. And when I mean INFORM us, don’t just include it on your City of Ottawa website. Be a little more creative.

If there’s a lot of recyclables being thrown in the trash, either the people are lazy or the people don’t know. And if a lot of items are being thrown in the recycling bin that shouldn’t be – INFORM us. Use those marketing skills to get us in the know and then make it easier for us to actually do it.

Another thing…just heard this morning on the Economist podcast that California has the best recycling habits in the US (another big surprise) Why? Because they don’t even make you sort. Easy done, easy results.

Your thoughts?


4 thoughts on “Recycling Timmy’s

  1. Tom Williams says:


    Great post. It would be a great CSR move for Tim Hortons to actually install coffee cup recyling recepticles all across Canada and fund the operations. The fact is that the environment is the one “cause” that transcends demographics and psychographics…

    The other point that you make here is that the time is now for version 2.0 of the Blue Box campaign. There was a massive push and public awareness when the blue boxes were introduced but as you correctly point out, there is a huge breakdown in the feedback loop but greater interest amongst a wider percentage of pop. that wants to do “their part.”

    Someone needs to create a campaign that collects signatures to deliver to Timmy H.Q. with this idea.

    Great post.

  2. […] Porter has a great post on why recycling needs better marketing, and why I can’t recycle a timmy’s […]

  3. Craig says:

    love the post.

    if anyone out there is interested and belongs to Facebook, I have created a group called “Encourage Tim Horton’s to become environmentally friendly”

    if you could encourage anynoe to join, that would be great.

    yes, so many questions, it doesnt seem like rocket science (but it never is when money is involved)


  4. […] 10, 2008 · No Comments Last year one of my first posts was about Tim Hortons not recycling their cups and the general questions surrounding the issue of what’s recyclable and what’s not? […]

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