Why Roll-Up The Rim is destroying our cities

By Emily Thiessen
By Emily Thiessen

The dejected, flattened, and faded Roll Up cup seems like a fitting still life for the Canadian spring. We’ve seen them in curbs and on sidewalks that border our main streets, and we all know why. Some idiot rolls up the rim, gets the “please play again,” and ditches the cup in disappointment.

Sorry, bud. I know you only won one coffee this year and that you’re there every day, but you’re just not winning that Corolla.

I’m not the first to complain. People have been writing opinion pieces about the proliferation of Roll Up cups for over a decade now, and those voices still aren’t being heard. Maybe it’s time that Tim Hortons take responsibility for all the tiny temper tantrums that it’s beverage-based lottery lays on its customers.

One solution? Just make every cup win. Amirite?

Or, more practically, how about this country just realizes that you’re going to lose the majority of your Roll-Ups? But, people are really not that bright, are they? If someone throws their trash out the window of their car on a highway, they likely aren’t the kind of person who cares at all about the environment, and they likely never will. So, trying to convince them to change might not be that effective.

The litter is really a problem, though, especially since the cups are recyclable. There was an elderly lady from Yellowknife who collected 2 000 cups during her own personal cleanup in 2013, for Christ’s sake. That just breaks my heart. So, what is Tims doing to keep our streets clean?

Tims has pushed the recyclability of their cups this year with new sorting bins in each restaurant for waste and two kinds of recycling, and in areas of Ontario and Nova Scotia they have a program set up to turn the cups into the serving trays. They even participated in 316 street cleanups in 2013. But, is that enough?

Even if larger cities have a dozen locations, 316 cleanups isn’t enough to keep the cups off the street when you have 3 600 locations. If it were, this wouldn’t still be an issue.

Tim Hortons has 4 500 locations around the world, and they say that 80 per cent of those are in Canada, so that’s about 3 600 locations. They were recently bought out by Burger King’s parent company, and with all this change in ownership, I think they could benefit by showing a good public face and putting an end to what has become a filthy yearly habit.

I admit it: I bought my first Roll-Up this year after seeing a spent cup sitting on top of a fire hydrant like a dunce cap. Whenever I see one on the ground I think, “ooh, that guy lost.” But then my second thought is, “I should go get some Tims, try my luck.”

I don’t know if I have the answer. They could just put more money into more cleanups, or they could cover the cost for more garbage and recycling infrastructure, or maybe they need to put out an awareness campaign (although I stand by my point that the highway-litter-neanderthals are likely a lost cause). I love Rolling Up the Rim just as much as anyone else, but I hate seeing such a long-standing Canadian tradition littering our Canadian cities.