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Return-It Pilot Provides Solution for Reusable Cups and Recycles Single-use Cups

VANCOUVER, BC, May 11, 2022 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX) --

Bins now accepting cups thanks to partnership with Tim Hortons, Starbucks, A&W Canada, McDonald's Canada, City of Vancouver and Metro Vancouver

Whether they contain coffee, tea or other drinks, approximately 80 million single-use cups end up in the trash in Vancouver each year.

A new pilot project by Return-It, in partnership with major brands, aims to keep more cups out of landfills by giving consumers a convenient place to recycle them in commercial and on-street locations. In addition to single-use cups for hot and cold beverages, the pilot also introduces a reusable cup program, with consumers signing up to use reusable cups that will be washed and returned to retail locations.

As of today, Return-It is rolling out the first of its bins for reusable and single-use cups in public spaces and partner locations across the City of Vancouver (11 bins in public spaces, and 10 inside selected Tim Hortons restaurants - see locations here). The pilot program - called Return-It to Reuse It and Recycle It - is made possible through a partnership between Return-It, Tim Hortons, Starbucks, A&W Canada, McDonald's Canada, City of Vancouver, Metro Vancouver and Merlin Plastics.

Managed by Return-It, the 6-month pilot program seeks to evaluate and determine the viability of a broader, permanent program in the City of Vancouver and other locations. Return-It will collect and process single-use cups and test additional recycling opportunities for the component materials. For reusable cups, Return-It will wash, sanitize and return the cups to each participating brand for redistribution to customers. Once the pilot wraps up, results will be analyzed to evaluate a scalable solution for a cups program that is convenient for customers.

"We are excited to be working alongside our partners to make a difference in keeping single-use cups out of landfills and to provide consumers with a more convenient option for reusing cups," said John Nixon, President & CEO, Return-It. "We're always looking for innovative solutions that will improve recovery rates and benefit British Columbians and this program will hopefully act as a scalable template that can be rolled out in other communities."

The collection bins, which are made from recycled plastics, provide an accessible opportunity to quickly redistribute reusables and recycle single-use cups. For single-use cups, consumers will empty out any liquids in one slot, and place the cups and lids in separate slots.

For reusable cups, consumers will empty any liquid into the slot provided, scan the QR code on the bin and then scan the QR code on the cup before placing it in a slot marked for reusables. Cups that are washed and repacked by Return-It will be returned to restaurants to be put back into circulation.

"We're excited to partner with Return-It on this pilot program as we work towards making all of our guest packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable," said Paul Yang, Senior Director of Innovation & Sustainability at Tim Hortons. "Tim Hortons has been testing a number of ways to scale reusable and returnable packaging systems as well as increase the recyclability of paper cups. Through this program with industry partners and the City of Vancouver, we hope to learn and develop innovative solutions for the future."

"Our goal is to become resource-positive for the future and cut our waste footprint in half by 2030," said Ross Anderson, Head of Social Impact, Public Policy and Sustainability at Starbucks Canada. "Supporting this pilot, together with our own efforts in-store to recycle single-use cups and encourage the use of reusables with our customers, is part of our unwavering commitment to ensure a sustainable future for all and invest in innovative and scalable solutions to reduce and manage waste."

"We're on a journey to reach zero waste at our restaurants and this pilot is an exciting step to get us closer to that goal," said Susan Senecal, President & CEO at A&W Canada. "We love the combination of finding a better way to recycle single-use cups, while also introducing a reusables program for the city of Vancouver."

"We are proud to partner with Return-It and support this important pilot," said Gemma Pryor, Senior Director Canada Impact Team at McDonald's Canada. "As part of our ongoing commitment to minimize our environmental footprint and to help protect the planet for future generations, McDonald's Canada has already transitioned away from plastic cutlery, straws and stir sticks and we look forward to trialing reusable cups in restaurants soon."

"The City of Vancouver is committed to reducing waste and litter from single-use items and we commend Return-It and the participating partners for this initiative. It is important and timely as it helps support the City's new single-use cup by-law and our Zero Waste 2040 goals," said Albert Shamess at the City of Vancouver. "We hope this initiative will encourage residents and visitors to keep their cups out of the garbage and provide an incentive to choose a reusable cup rather than a single-use cup."

"We are very excited to be involved in this pilot program for reusable cups," said Ashley Gorrie, Founder of Unwasted, a Canadian company that turns single-use plastics into furniture and other products such as the bins being used in the Vancouver pilot. "We started Unwasted because we wanted to help educate consumers about proper diversion of waste and recycling but also to begin to use the materials collected in the production of our products, making these solutions as circular as possible. We are thankful to Return-It for partnering with us on this program and look forward to its necessary success."

More information on the pilot program and locations of public collection bins can be found here.

Return-It is an industry owned, not-for-profit, product stewardship agency with beverage container management as its core business. Its mandate is to develop, manage and improve systems to recover used beverage packaging and end-of-life products from consumers to ensure they are properly recycled and diverted from the natural environment. This work includes the development and implementation of initiatives that provide new solutions to reduce waste. Return-It is also a founding member of the Canada Plastics Pact and has made a global commitment through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to help eliminate plastic pollution at the source. In 2021, Return-It broadened its commitment to sustainability by announcing its social purpose, which is aimed at creating a better future for people, communities and the planet: We exist to foster a world where nothing is waste. Visit for more information

SOURCE Encorp Pacific (Canada)

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SOURCE: Encorp Pacific (Canada)

Media Contact: Keerat Baidwan -  Cell: 250-415-9457
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