Tim Hortons Continues to Block Environmental Initiatives Behind Closed Door Meetings


Mind numbing statistics, just coffee cups and lids.


City may delay day of reckoning for coffee-cup recycling

The city is considering pushing back a deadline it had already extended to June for Tim Hortons, the fast-food industry and its own officials to solve the caffeine headaches that have come with trying to recycle the one million takeout coffee cups used in Toronto every day.

A working group of city waste officials and industry representatives was briefed yesterday in a closed-door meeting on three consultants’ reports – which cost $50,000 – on the difficulties of including the cups in the blue box.

The reports, obtained by The Globe and Mail, and a provincial review of blue-box legislation may force the city to extend the deadline again, Geoff Rathbone, the city’s general manager of solid waste, said yesterday.

The city ended up in a fight with coffee shops last year after it threatened to ban the current standard takeout coffee cup, which it said it could not recycle.

The city said the cups’ plastic coating and plastic lids would contaminate its paper recycling stream, unless it spent at least $3-million on new equipment and $1-million in new operating costs for its sorting plants.

The city also said it would mandate a 20-cent discount for all coffee-shop customers who bring in reusable mugs, but agreed to new talks with the industry. A previous April deadline was pushed back to June.

The latest possible delay was welcomed by Stephanie Jones, the Ontario vice-president of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association and a member of the working group.

Ms. Jones, who points to smaller Ontario municipalities that recycle coffee cups, said she was encouraged by the consultants’ reports: “This is really the first time that we have clearly seen that taxes and bans are not the only two pieces under consideration.”

The Globe obtained PowerPoint slides summarizing the three consultants’ reports.

A paper-mill survey by Amec Americas Ltd. says the cups must first be completely separated from other recyclables and could be turned into tissue. But it includes a long list of potential problems, including contamination from the ink, the cups’ coating, and those common cardboard insulation sleeves.

No mill contacted was willing to take the material without a trial run. Many said they would need city money to convert their facilities.

To sort the material by hand, according to a report by Entec Consulting Ltd., the city would need up to 40 more people picking cups and lids off conveyor belts in its recycling sorting stations, which would have to be expanded.

Using automated “optical” or “near infrared” sorting machines also poses problems, as they cannot separate the cups from other paper and may not be able to capture the dark-brown plastic lids used on some cups.

A third report summarizes the results from focus groups conducted by Ipsos Reid, and says almost all the participants wrongly believed they could throw their coffee cups in the blue box now, while others were “confused.”

With a report from Jennifer



Fallout from takeout

1 million: Estimated takeout coffee cups generated in Toronto each day

152,858: Number that leave the city

336,883: Number brought in

1,184,025: Net daily that end up in Toronto’s waste

357,575,550: Annual total

4,291 tonnes a year: Weight of those cups

715 tonnes a year: Weight of their plastic lids

Source: Report for city by

Entec Consultng Ltd., obtained

by The Globe and Mail

QSR Magazine Requests ‘Death of the Drive-thru’ be Removed from Our Site

UPDATE: On April 22nd we received a very respectful and polite communication from the production manager of QSR.  The communication stated that they (QSR) appreciated the interviews granted by our members used in the article, however, due to QSR’s copyright policy, we cannot be granted permission to post the entire content of this article.  They stated they would be pleased for our site to post a link to the article.  The communication also stated due to procedure (QSR & WordPress) it was perhaps interpreted as rigid or hostile – this was not the intent of QSR.


Here is the following request we received from WordPress.  We have cooperated & removed this posting from our site as per the request – even though two of our members who were contacted for comments are featured in the interview.  Since this time we have written to QSR requesting their permission to post this article.  They have yet to respond.  The journalist has responded expressing his regrets as he has sold the rights to the article.  He suggested that we contact QSR. – Council of Canadians | London

The following text is the request sent to WordPress:

“To Whom it May Concern:

The following URL contains an article that is posted without permission of QSR Magazine, the copyright holder:


Specifically, the article “The Death of Drive-Thru?” is reproduced in its entirety, followed by a link to the article as it appears on our website. [http://www.qsrmagazine.com/articles/features/120/emissions-1.phtml]

Per the terms of the contract with Jamie Hartford (the author), Journalistic, Inc., publisher of QSR Magazine, owns all rights to the content. The individual/individuals reproducing this article did not receive permission from us to post it. Had they inquired, we would have allowed a teaser blurb or a direct link to our site, but would not have allowed the article to appear in its entirety.

I do believe in good faith that the use of the content mentioned above is not authorized by law, and I can verify that indeed I am a person authorized to act on behalf of Journalistic, Inc. / QSR Magazine.

We would ask that the aforementioned article be removed from the site.


Mitch Avery
Production Manager
QSR Magazine”

Tim Hortons Refuses to be Environmentally Responsible … As Per Usual


Tim Hortons gets a reprieve on new waste rules

Coffee chain and fast-food outlets reach a compromise with the city, but grocery retailers and bottled-water makers are not included


Bert Marotte

November 13, 2008

Tim Hortons and other fast-food outlets yesterday won a five-month reprieve – but grocery retailers and bottled-water makers did not – from tough city proposals to reduce consumer packaging waste.

In a compromise struck during a 10-hour debate, the public works committee unanimously agreed to more talks with Tim Hortons and its competitors – but only until April, 2009 – to find a recycling solution for disposable coffee and hot-drink cups that now go to landfill.

“This allows industry and leaders like Tim Hortons to sit down with the city on how we are actually going to reduce the volume of garbage going into our garbage dumps,” said committee chairman Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38 Scarborough Centre.) “How do we get 365 million coffee cups out of the garbage stream and into the recycling stream?”

But by a vote of 4-2, the committee rebuffed moves to delay other proposals in a report by the city’s solid-waste department, including a 10-cent discount for consumers who avoid using a plastic bag at the checkout counter. The committee also held to a proposed ban on bottled water at civic centres, effective immediately, and at city facilities in three years.

After the vote, which heads to council for debate in early December, a spokeswoman for grocery retailers expressed dismay they had won no relief.

“I hope saner minds will prevail,” said Kim McKinnon, Ontario vice-president of the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors. “What they’ve done here is cause a huge economic burden on the grocery retailers … consumers will feel the multimillion-dollar impact.”

Nick Javor, senior vice-president of corporate affairs for Tim Hortons, expressed relief at the committee vote, but did not commit to specific actions.

“We have to go back and do more work,” he said.

The original staff report – which at the insistence of Mayor David Miller avoided calls for new taxes – won praise from environmentalists and universal opposition from industry. The report called on the fast-food industry to develop reusable take-out containers by 2010, and also switch to all-recyclable disposable take-out containers by the end of next year. (The city will start accepting polystyrene foam and plastic bags in blue bins in December.)

The plastics and food-industry groups repeated warnings yesterday that the city plan would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to business, and ultimately to consumers. City officials maintain the financial impact would be small. Industry groups also warned of possible legal action.

Stephanie Jones, the Ontario vice-president of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said the 20-cent discount for customers who bring their own mugs was “punitive” and would leave the coffee shops – especially small mom-and-pop operations – out-of-pocket.

“Where is the city’s research? I personally went to Costco, and if I buy a sleeve of 12-ounce paper cups and a package of lids, I pay just over 10 cents [per cup],” she said.

According to a report by city bureaucrats, hot-drink cups with a sleeve and a plastic lid range in cost from 13 cents to 27 cents. Tim Hortons already offers a bring-your-own-mug discount, but only 10 cents.

The city says Tim Hortons’ current coffees cups are unrecyclable because the plastic lids contaminate the paper recycling stream. The coffee giant refused yesterday to help pay for the estimated $3-million in new sorting equipment needed to process the cups.

Mr. Javor said Tim Hortons would support the city if it approached the province to seek funding for the new equipment. Yesterday’s compromise includes a recommendation that the city ask the province for the financial help.

As of yesterday, Mr. Javor’s name now appears in the city’s lobbyist registry. The Globe and Mail reported on Tuesday that, despite meeting with city councillors last week, Mr. Javor did not appear in the city’s on-line lobbyist registry that tracks contact with city officials.

Lobbyist registrar Linda Gehrke would not comment if she is still investigating any possible breach of the rules by Mr. Javor. A conviction for a first offence could mean a fine of up to $25,000, but Ms. Gehrke says she is taking a lenient approach as industry adjusts to the rules.

Saving the planet

Some recent moves by other jurisdictions:



Seattle: A 20-cent-a-bag “green fee” on plastic and paper bags, set for Jan. 1, is on hold pending the outcome of a referendum later next year.

San Francisco: It was the first city in the U.S. to impose a ban on plastic shopping bags, followed by Oakland, Calif., and Portland, Ore.

Ireland: A tax on plastic grocery bags, the equivalent of 34 cents a bag, was imposed in 2002, prompting a 90-per-cent drop in use.

Vancouver: A ban is under consideration, after Metro Vancouver (22 area municipalities) decided to work to discourage use of disposable bags.


Seattle: A mayor’s executive order banned city departments from buying bottled water, effective this month.

Metro Vancouver: It launched a campaign in September to encourage tap water use over bottled water, with a goal to reduce consumption 20 per cent by 2010.

Charlottetown: It was the first city in the country to ban bottled water from municipal facilities, in 2007. In August, London, Ont., imposed a similar ban. Vancouver and Kitchener-Waterloo are considering bans.


Seattle: A ban on polystyrene foam takeout containers comes into effect Jan. 1.

San Francisco: Disposable takeout containers must be biodegradable or suitable for compost or recycling.

Turner Valley, Alta.: In April, became the first municipality in Canada to ban polystyrene in food packaging, such as foam cups.

Jennifer Lewington and

Bert Marotte