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Goodbye plastic, hello wood: Tim Hortons unveils new eco-friendly packaging and cutlery

Timmy’s announcement lands the same day the federal ban on the import and manufacture of single-use plastics came into effect.

Canada’s favourite coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons has unveiled new eco-friendly changes to its cutlery, lids and sandwich wraps that will be in stores starting in early 2023.

The announcement came Dec. 20, the same day the federal government’s ban on the import and manufacturing for sale of single-use plastics came into effect. These include bans on plastic checkout bags, cutlery and food-service ware made from problematic plastics.

Tim Hortons’ more than 4,000 Canadian locations will begin the switch in January, replacing plastic cutlery and lids with wooden and fibre cutlery and fibre lids for its bowls. The new compostable items will eliminate the use of an estimated 90 million single-use plastics a year across Canada, the company said in a press release.

The goal is “to develop products that are alternatives to plastic and easier to recycle and repurpose while still offering a great guest experience,” the statement said.

A nationwide rollout of new breakfast and lunch wrappers will also get underway early next year. It will feature “an efficient design that uses 75 per cent less material than the prior wrap box, which is estimated to save more than 1,400 tonnes of material a year.”

The company has been working on transitioning to a plastic-free environment since it introduced wooden stir sticks in 2019 and paper straws in 2020.

“We recognize that given our scale, every small thing we do or change we make has the potential to add up to a big impact,” a Tim Hortons spokesperson told the Star.

“Our wooden cutlery is made with wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council based on its sustainable forestry standards,” the spokesperson added. The company also encourages its customers to use reusable mugs (and bowls) by offering a 10 per cent discount.

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The federal government’s ban of single-use plastic is the next step toward achieving zero plastic waste by 2030, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The timing of the ban, however, comes at a challenging moment for the restaurant industry, which is just starting to recover following COVID-19 closures, supply chain shortages and in the midst of rising food costs.

Kelly Higginson, chief operating officer of Restaurants Canada, which represents more than 5,000 members in the food industry, said “half of food service operators are currently operating at a loss or just breaking even.

“In removing single-use plastics from the market without enough affordable and sustainable replacement options in place, the industry could take on an estimated 125 per cent increase in costs,” she told the Star.

“Eighty per cent of our operators believe environmental sustainability is an important piece to their success,” said Higginson. “Our sector understands the need to shift in this direction.”

However, they need to ensure they can secure more sustainable options that are safe, affordable and available to meet the demand, she said.



Fares Alghoul at Toronto Star

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