Return-It and City of Vancouver introduce a plan to reduce single-use cup waste

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Brennagh Bailey
May 13, 2022

Mayor Kennedy Stewart is proud to help announce Return-It’snew 6-month pilot program for reusable and single use cups, in partnership with leading restaurant brands and the City of Vancouver. 

Every year, 80 million single-use cups end up in the trash in Vancouver. When City Council passed the cup fee, it was designed to lead to programs just like this which encourage reusable cups and start to reduce Vancouver’s environmental footprint. This is the start of making reusable cups just as convenient as single use ones.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart and the Forward Together team realize that it’s going to take all of us – from governments to restaurant operators to non-profits like Return-It and, importantly, consumers – to keep cups out of landfills.

As of May 11th, consumers will find new collection stations in public and commercial spaces around the city, where they can recycle their single-use cups and drop off reusable cups that will be washed, sanitizeed and returned to retail locations for re-use. 

This pilot is being called the Return-It to Reuse It and Recycle It because residents and visitors will have two options: Signing up to use reusable cups that they can drop into the new collection stations while they’re on the go or, placing their single-use cups for hot or cold beverages in a bin to be recycled.

While Tim Hortons is the first brand to participate in the reusables aspect of the Return-It pilot program, the other partner brands mentioned above have pledged to join soon. Once the pilot wraps up, results will be analyzed to evaluate a scalable solution for a reusable cup program that is convenient for customers.

How it Works

  1. The collection bins, which are made from recycled plastics, provide an accessible opportunity to quickly redistribute reusables and recycle single-use cups.

    For reusable cups, consumers will scan a QR code on the bin and then scan the QR code on the cup before placing it in a slot marked for reusables. For single-use cups, consumers will empty out any liquids in one slot, and place the cups and lids in separate slots.

  2. Tim Hortons, and any other brands participating in the future, will offer consumers a method for signing up to take a reusable cup at point of sale. After reusable cups are dropped at a collection station, they will be collected, washed, sanitized and repacked by Return-It, and returned to each brand to be put back into circulation.

  3. There will be 21 new collection stations in various locations around the city – inside participating stores, on sidewalks and other public places such as plazas and public buildings. Information about the locations is available on the Return-It website here.

There will be 11 public space locations (9 will be installed the day of the launch) and there will also be 10 located inside Tim Hortons stores.

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