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 began in select Tim Hortons restaurants in Canada in 2021 and select Burger King restaurants in the US in 2022.

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.

Sourcing fiber-based materials from sustainably managed forests

Our brands are working towards verifying that 100% of approved, guest-facing fiber-based packaging comes from recycled or certified sources1 globally by the end of 2022.

1 Certified sources defined as sources certified by at least one of the following certification bodies: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) or Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

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 accepted in 95% of curbside recycling programs across Canada.

In addition, Tim Hortons developed new paper-based wrappers for bagels and sandwiches, which eliminates plastic-lined wrappers and are fully recyclable, resulting in reducing an estimated 460 tonnes of plastic annually and require 17 per cent less paper in our previously approved wrappers annually.

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. 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.

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 annually. 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

Tim Hortons approved packaging is already free from EPS foam, globally. At Burger King, EPS foam has been eliminated globally from approved guest packaging offered by centrally managed distributors and the brand has required that markets do not use EPS foam for any local guest packaging items.Popeyes has phased out EPS foam from the vast majority of all centrally managed, approved guest packaging globally and expects to complete the transition in 2022.


When it comes to making responsible material choices, Restaurant Brands International remains committed to only using ingredients and materials that are safe for Guests and employees, as a foundation of our strategy. We continuously review our policies on raw material sourcing to ensure we remain good corporate citizens in the communities we serve, and we have very specific guidelines around the approved products that are used in our restaurants in order to ensure food safety.

In the United States, this means ensuring our product and packaging specifications are compliant with FDA standards. In Canada, this means our product and packaging specifications are compliant with Health Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Agency standards. Outside North America, our products are compliant with local regulation.

As part of our commitment to safe ingredients, our product specifications require that all approved plastic toys and promotional drink wear not contain bisphenol A (“BPAs”), and prohibit the use of perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOAs”) within our approved paper and packaging products. This policy applies to all guest-facing approved packaging suppliers that conduct business with the Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes brands and is monitored for compliance by the RBI Quality Assurance team.

As a next step in our product stewardship journey, the Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes brands have required that any added2 perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) be phased out from all approved, guest-facing packaging materials3 globally by the end of 2025 or sooner.

Our procurement and brand teams are evaluating several alternatives that achieve the same functional characteristics without the need for added PFAS.

For example, Tim Hortons Canada recently worked with one of the world’s leading paper mills to develop alternative materials that embed the necessary functional characteristics directly in the fiber chemistry, which eliminated the need for PFAS. Following successful trials, implementation of the new material has begun.

There is more work to do across our brands and regions, but results have been positive. We plan to share more details about our packaging roadmap as it relates to PFAS as we progress.

2 When testing packaging materials for Total Fluorine the results may indicate that trace amounts of Fluorine are present, when in practice no PFAS have been added to the packaging in the production process. This can result from Fluorine being embedded in materials and the manufacturing process – test results are unlikely to show no Fluorine, but elevated levels are a sign of added Fluorinated compounds. We continue to work with packaging vendors to test incoming raw materials to ensure added PFAS is not included in our packaging, including in the recycled content of some of our paper packaging.

3 For purposes of this requirement, ‘Guest-facing packaging’ is defined as any item which arrives to a BURGER KING®, TIM HORTONS® or POPEYES® restaurant with no contents, for the sole purpose of packaging a BURGER KING®, TIM HORTONS® or POPEYES® food or drink product in-restaurant to serve to a guest. Food and drink items that are pre-packaged or branded product by suppliers (product manufactured, packaged and marketed, commonly with the producer’s logos/branding), by a third party are not in scope, and packaging of products sold by RBI brands through third-party retailers is not in scope.

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 where commercially viable and infrastructure is available 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.