Packaging & Recycling

Real Food, High Quality Ingredients

Moving from Single-Use to Reusable

To tackle the challenge of waste management, we strive to reduce packaging through reusable alternatives across our business on an ongoing basis.

In 1978, Tim Hortons pioneered the reusable cup program with the TimMug. Although reusable cups have been paused for now during the COVID-19 Pandemic, when it is safe to do so, we will resume our reusable cup programs where guests who bring in a reusable cup enjoy a discount on their coffee, while guests who dine in the restaurant are served their beverage in a china mug. As the coffee leader in Canada, Tim Hortons has taken a firm position on single-use paper cups and will be executing a decade-long marketing effort to influence consumer behaviour and support the transition to reusable alternatives.

In 2020, after nearly 35 years of Rolling Up the Rim with paper cups, Tim Hortons modernized its iconic contest to allow guests to play digitally for the first time. The brand also recently launched a refreshed reusable cup platform in all standard restaurants across Canada.

In October 2020, Burger King and Tim Hortons announced a partnership with zero-waste packaging provider, Loop, to pilot a new reusable and returnable packaging system for food and beverages on the go. This partnership represents a significant step towards making circular packaging models more convenient and accessible for guests, helping to reduce waste and push the foodservice industry forward. Pilot testing will begin in select restaurants in 2021.

Burger King Korea has also implemented a reusable cup system for in-store guests. In 2020, Burger King Sweden piloted reusable cups for soda beverages in four restaurants and continues to work towards a reusable cup alternative for use across the entire country.

Sustainable Packaging Design

While we continue the journey of shifting guest behavior toward the use of reusable options, we know that we currently utilize traditional packaging across our brands. We are committed to making careful choices in materials and innovating in physical design in order to find solutions that are environmentally sound and still do the job of protecting the safety and quality of our products. We aim to minimize the resources and material inputs needed to package our products as well as the overall volume of packaging that needs to be disposed of by guests, while we also work to switch to more sustainable materials for existing packaging. By 2025, 100% of approved guest packaging will come from renewable, recycled or certified sources.

Sourcing fiber-based materials from sustainably managed forests

Burger King and Tim Hortons require vendors to source fiber-based packaging from certified or recycled sources, globally. Popeyes is working towards implementing this requirement globally by 2021.

Increasing the use of recycled content

Tim Hortons increased the recycled content of their paper takeaway bags, so that multi-item paper bags in Canada and the US are now made of 100% recycled fiber. A paper cup that contains 30% post-consumer recycled content is also being tested in select Canadian restaurants.

Using materials that are easier to recycle

One of our waste reduction strategies is to serve guests the food they love in packaging that can be recycled in their local communities. One challenge we face is that some communities and regions lack the necessary facilities to be able to properly recycle all types of plastics. To tackle this challenge, Tim Hortons new hot beverage lid is now made from polypropylene, a material type that is 100% recyclable and accepted in 95% of curbside recycling programs across Canada.

In addition, Tim Hortons has developed new paper-based wrappers for bagels and sandwiches, which will roll out in early 2021. The new paper-based wrappers will eliminate plastic-lined wrappers and are fully recyclable, resulting in reducing an estimated 460 tonnes of plastic over the next year and 17 per cent less paper in our wrappers annually.

In November 2020, the brand will launch a pilot project at select Vancouver restaurants with the aim of introducing a paper cup that has a recyclable and compostable liner. Tim Hortons continues to work with key stakeholders in industry and government to ensure the cup is accepted within municipal programs.

Switching from single-use plastics

Tim Hortons launched a strawless lid in Canada and the US that uses 15% less plastic than the former lid and straw combination. The new strawless lid will remove 120 million plastic straws from our supply chain every year. For frozen beverages that still require the use of a straw, paper straws will be replacing plastic straws across Canada, removing more than 300 million single use plastics in the next year. Tim Hortons also launched wooden stir sticks in Canada and the US, which is expected to remove 186 million plastic stir sticks.

Cumulatively across Tim Hortons Canada and Burger King markets in Europe and China, we are switching over 1 billion traditional plastic straws to alternative materials.

Burger King India banned single use plastics, and continues to use more environmentally friendly materials like birch wood for forks, spoons, and stirrers. The brand has also launched paper straws for soda beverages in seven European countries, with further expansion planned by early 2021. Additionally, Burger King in Europe is transitioning 25 million plastic sundae cups to paper and avoiding 32 million plastic lids by introducing the Fusion paper flap cup.

Globally, Burger King is also committed to completely phasing out non bio-degradable plastic toys from its system by the end of 2025. Burger King UK has already completely removed all plastic toys from its King Junior Meals, estimated to save 320 tonnes of single use plastic annually.

Reducing material volume

New napkins will be used across Tim Hortons restaurants in Canada and the United States that use 25% less material than before, saving an estimated 900 tonnes of paper in the next year. The napkins are made of 100% recycled fiber, including 90% post-consumer content.

In addition, Tim Hortons will stop the practice of ‘double-cupping’ in Canadian restaurants, encouraging the use of a 100% recycled fibre cup sleeve instead. The transition is estimated to save about 2,700 tonnes of cups per year, which is equivalent to 200 million cups.

Removing foam

By 2021 we will phase out EPS foam from all centrally managed, approved guest packaging globally and require that markets do not use EPS foam for any local guest packaging items. Tim Hortons approved packaging is already free from EPS foam, globally. While a limited number of Burger King restaurants may still have foam packaging items in their inventory, EPS foam has been eliminated globally from approved guest packaging offered by centrally managed distributors.

Recovering and Recycling Resources

We are working with our guests as well as leaders in the recycling space to pilot and understand how we can repurpose our packaging materials – creating value and responsibly managing these resources. We aim to play a part in finding new homes for the materials to make sure there will always be someone to collect and recycle it.

We are committed to facilitate access to waste diversion, starting with recycling guest packaging in 100% of Burger King and Tim Hortons restaurants in Canada and the US by 2025.

Waste management is a complex and constantly evolving field, with variations in waste and recycling collection approaches between countries – and even between neighboring cities. This requires the consideration of several effective solutions rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. We will work with communities, governments, and recycling facilities to advance progress in the area of waste collection, processing and diversion while seeking out new initiatives and more innovative ways for our packaging to flow through the system, avoid landfills, and limit our environmental impact.

As part of their initiative on phasing out non bio-degradable plastic toys, Burger King UK has asked guests to join Meltdown in partnership with the world’s leading Circular Economy company, Pentatonic, and turn unwanted toys into something amazing. Meltdown will see plastic toy amnesty bins installed in every restaurant across the UK. People are invited to drop off their giveaway or free meal plastic toys and give them a new lease on life so they can be transformed into future interactive play opportunities for families at Burger King restaurants.