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Update: Calls for Tim Hortons’ Roll Up the Rim to Go Green

Update: Calls for Tim Hortons’ Roll Up the Rim to Go Green

A trio of students from Calgary has launched an online petition calling on the coffee chain to bring the contest online.

Update (April 30, 2019):

Tim Hortons is planning to make changes to its well-known Roll Up the Rim program after acknowledging its declining popularity.

In order to continue attracting customers, the coffee-and-doughnut chain’s parent company Restaurant Brands said there are plans to reboot the contest.

“We still believe the 33-year old Roll Up the Rim program is a valuable and iconic platform for Tims. It has very high awareness,” says Jose Cil, Chief Executive of Restaurant Brands International on an analyst conference call.

Next year, the company plans to revamp the program with a “modern and fresh approach” that includes a digital tie-in, added Cil.

The announcement comes after environmental activists lobbied the chain to bring the program online, saying the contest promoted the usage of one-time disposable cups.

Although the specifics of the new program have yet to be released, Tim Hortons president Alex Macedo told the Financial Post that the revamped contest would include the creation of  a “really cool app.”

In a quarterly update released on Monday, the coffee chain reported that system-wide sales of US$1.5 billion were down US$61 million compared to the previous year. While comparable sales fell by 0.6 percent.

Originally published on February 06, 2019:

As Tim Hortons iconic Roll Up the Rim contest gets underway, there are growing calls for the company to make changes to how it operates.

A trio of students from Calgary have launched an online petition calling on the coffee chain to bring the whole thing online.

“If Tim Hortons had some sort of electronic version of the Roll Up the Rim to Win I think that would be a much more environmentally positive way to run the contest,” said 16-year-old Ben Duthie to CBC.

Dutchie, along with 12-year-olds Mya Chau and Eve Helman, is also asking the restaurant to switch to a fully compostable or recyclable paper cup.

“We think that if they could make a better cup … then that would be great,” Helman said. “Because all their disposable cups are going into the landfills and affecting the environment.”

The group says the company should encourage customers to bring in reusable mugs during Roll Up the Rim and suggest stickers or scannable receipts that allow those customers to participate in the contest.

“We see so many people buy coffee at Tim Horton’s every day and we also see their cups littering the streets and in the garbage,” the petition reads. “It is estimated that a total 600 billion single-use cups wind up in landfills each year. Our planet and our oceans can’t take any more waste! We think it’s time for Tim Horton’s to join the movement towards a more sustainable future.”

Chau and Helman also petitioned Starbucks to build a better cup, while Duthie was part of a lobbying effort that helped convinced Starbucks to ban plastic straws.

Sylvain Charlebois, professor of food distribution and police at Dalhousie University, agrees an environmental reboot is needed as more food manufacturers come under fire for package waste.

“Today, not only are food retailers and restaurant outlets under watch, Tim Horton’s has been targeted specifically as one the largest generators of garbage that ends up on Canadian seashores, alongside McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Coca Cola, and Nestle,” said Charlebois in Retail Insider.

As a circular economy model becomes more important to consumers, companies are trying to figure out how to use resources in closed loops, as opposed to making or utilizing products that will end up in landfills.

Charlebois notes that an online version of “Roll Up the Rim” could change the social aspect many have come to enjoy and expect of the contest. Ultimately though, he says a growing desire for environmentally sustainable practices will win out.

“Some less tech-savvy customers may feel disenfranchised by a shift to an online campaign, but Tim Horton’s could risk losing more customers by sticking to past practices. Starbucks and other chains are making changes, so expectations are shifting rapidly,” he concluded.

Restaurant Brands International, which owns Tim Hortons, has yet to respond to the petition directly.