2013 Sustainability and Responsibility Report


Environmental Stewardship at Our Restaurants

We understand that changes in the environment need to be managed and embrace our responsibility to do our part, focusing on two key priority areas to reduce our environmental impact. Working with our restaurant owners, we are committed to reducing the waste we create in all aspects of our business and to reducing the energy, carbon emissions and resources we use. The sections below describe Restaurant-focused initiatives to reduce our environmental impact.


Packaging: Designs that Reduce Our Impact

At Tim Hortons, we ensure to consider the environment when making decisions about our packaging. Designing better packaging can significantly reduce the associated adverse environmental impacts. Examples of how we do this include reducing material, resizing and reconfiguring for pallet optimization, increasing recycled content, and using new material types and sources.

Recent Packaging Improvements

In 2013, we eliminated over 230 GHG's for transportation of our products! In 2013, we continued to focus efforts on pallet optimization, based on our goal of reducing the environmental impacts associated with transporting our products and packaging.

We targeted product arriving at our Distribution Centres to reduce the total number of incoming pallets.

For a number of products, we worked with our vendors to change case sizes and palletizing patterns. For some products, this required the development of new packaging sizes, with potentially increased strength. We conducted comprehensive distribution ship testing to ensure that the product could be shipped safely to guarantee guest satisfaction. Our combined efforts resulted in a reduction of approximately 6,200 incoming pallets, saving over 323,000 kilometres in 2013.

Another example of our pallet optimization efforts in 2013 was increasing the number of cases per pallet for our Timbit and Donut boxes. As a result, we achieved a reduction of 3,600 incoming pallets, which translated into savings of approximately 168,950 kilometres in 2013.


Donut Filling and Glaze Packaging Reduction

In 2013, our Packaging Research and Development team partnered with Fruition Fruits & Fills (one of our manufacturing facilities) and Sealed Air (our donut fillings and glaze packaging vendor) to significantly reduce materials used to package the product. We reduced the thickness of the plastic film used to package the fillings and glaze by 30%, eliminating approximately 60 tonnes of plastic per year. This change also avoided over 7 tonnes of shipping materials and reduced the number of trucks on the road transporting this material to the manufacturing facility. Changes to our plastic film saved 67 tonnes of material in 2013!


Benchmarking Environmental Impacts

In 2013, a cross-functional team benchmarked the environmental impacts of over 90% of our key guest-facing packaging formats using a tool to standardize the evaluation process.1

Each evaluation was based on the lifecycle approach, and assessments highlighted the environmental impacts associated with materials extraction, production processes, transport distances, use, and end-of-life scenarios. Priorities have been set for our remaining packaging. In addition, lessons learned will be applied to future packaging developments.

Packaging life cycle

In 2014, we will continue to integrate the environmental evaluation process into our packaging development and decision-making processes, so that we can make best efforts to balance opportunities for environmental impact reductions with guest satisfaction, product protection and safety.

For more details on our packaging see the Anatomy of Our Cup video.


Anatomy of Our Cup video

1 The percentage of guest-facing packaging formats benchmarked is based on the weight and volume of guest-facing packaging formats used in 2012.

Waste Reduction

At Our Restaurants: Waste

As we strive to reduce the waste created in every part of our business, one of the most important areas of action, particularly for our guests, is tackling the waste generated at our restaurants. We are working towards this objective by considering the environment when designing our packaging and implementing reduction, reuse and recycling initiatives in our restaurants.

Waste audits will continue to be completed each year in order to identify trends in waste generation and waste diversion opportunities in various geographic locations.

Our Restaurant Waste Profile

Annual waste audits provide us with insights about the amount of each type of waste that is generated, including how guests and Team Members sort waste at our restaurants. During these audits, all waste generated at a particular restaurant is analyzed to determine whether it can be reduced, reused or recycled.

The following chart represents the average proportion of waste (by weight and type of material) generated at a standard Tim Hortons restaurant, based on the annual waste audits conducted in 2012 and 2013.

Restaurant Waste Profile (2012/2013)

Note: This is a representation of total waste generated and does not depict what is diverted from landfill through recycling and/or composting.

Waste audits will continue to be completed each year in order to identify trends in waste generation and waste diversion opportunities in various geographic locations.

Let’s Reduce Waste First

While recycling and composting are great solutions for waste, eliminating the use of single-serve packaging in the first place is even better. We continue to encourage our guests to use ceramic mugs, plates and bowls when dining in our restaurants, and guests are also provided with a 10 cent discount when they bring in their own travel mug.

Waste Diversion Programs

In instances where packaging and other waste cannot be reduced or avoided, we are committed to increasing access to programs that divert these materials from landfill. These include recycling programs for cardboard, beverage containers (bottles and cans) and paper packaging, including our hot beverage cup. We are also working with Restaurant Owners to increase the number of restaurants participating in composting programs for coffee grinds and food waste.

Our waste diversion programs vary between restaurants because they are located in different communities with different classifications of items acceptable for recycling. Additionally, our Restaurant Owners use different waste management service providers, which may also impact the items included in recycling programs. In order to accommodate for regional variations and each restaurant’s unique diversion programs, our multi-stream recycling unit was developed to allow for varied signage to be displayed. These units can be used for bottle and can recycling programs at the outset, but as services become more widely available for recycling and composting, the unit can evolve with new educational signage. Tim Hortons is committed to moving forward to improve access to diversion programs for our waste materials.

Programs for Organic Materials

Organic materials break down easily, and have potential beneficial properties as soil amendments and for power generation. The most significant portion of our waste stream (by weight) is organic materials, which are comprised mainly of our used coffee grounds.

In 2012, we set a goal to increase the number of restaurants diverting organic materials from landfill by 20% by 2016. In 2013 we conducted a survey with all restaurants in our chain, and 16% of respondents indicated they had diversion programs in place for coffee grounds and/or food waste, which represents a 27% increase in the number of restaurants since 2011.

Programs for the Hot Beverage Cup and Other Paper Packaging30 % increase instructions to follow

In 2000, we launched our first hot beverage cup diversion program in Prince Edward Island. Since then, the number of restaurants with hot beverage cup and paper packaging recycling and composting programs has increased each year.

Based on the 2011 baseline, we set a goal to increase the number of restaurants diverting paper packaging materials from landfill by 20% by 2016. Based on a survey of all restaurants in our chain, there are 273 additional restaurants that offer these programs, which represents a 34% increase. By the end of 2013, paper packaging diversion programs, many of which include the hot beverage cup, were offered at 30% of our restaurants in Canada.

Continued Commitment to Waste Diversion

We continue to look for new opportunities to increase the number of restaurants with programs to divert the full range of our waste materials from landfill. We are working with various partners to identify new waste service providers, improve equipment and processes for our Restaurant Owners, and conduct pilot projects to demonstrate the value of diverting these materials. At the same time, we are working on a comprehensive waste diversion strategy for our full restaurant system. In 2013, we met with Restaurant Owners across Canada as a first phase and a draft strategy will be developed for feedback in 2014.

Increasing Access to Hot Beverage Cup Recycling

When we first started looking for end-of-life solutions for our hot beverage cups, it was unknown as to whether our cup could be recycled. Through work with waste industry experts and mill trials, we now know that our hot beverage cups can be successfully recycled. Our current challenge is the accessibility of recycling programs that accept and process our hot beverage cups, both for our restaurants as well as for our guests, through municipal recycling systems.

In order to increase access to recycling programs for our hot beverage cup, we are working with organizations such as Stewardship Ontario to collaborate with municipalities and demonstrate that our cups can be recycled without compromising current recycling programs. Some solutions can be very low-tech and immediate, while others may involve some investment. The collaborative work with these organizations is helping to increase the recycling community’s knowledge of effective diversion of hot beverage cups.

In 2013, we partnered with Stewardship Ontario and the Carton Council of Canada to explore the barriers to expanding the collection, sorting, and marketing of the current post-consumer carton material classification to include other compatible composite paper packaging materials (such as hot beverage paper cups, fibre-based ice cream cartons and fibre-based freezer packaging). The final phase of this project is expected to be completed in 2014.

The Key to Success: Guest Participation

Our progress on waste reduction and diversion is only possible through the participation of our guests. To help us reduce waste, bring in your travel mug to receive a 10 cent discount and request the use of reusable ceramic dishware when eating in our restaurants.

As our guest, you are also the key to ensuring that our recycling and composting programs are successful. By disposing of items properly, you help to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill. When items are placed in the wrong waste container, it can compromise our ability to recycle and/or compost your packaging. For example, when recycling hot beverage cups, lids need to be removed and placed in a separate container from our hot beverage cup.

Programs vary by restaurant, so please take a moment to look at the signage before disposing of your waste. The success of our waste diversion programs is truly in YOUR hands.

Community Clean-Ups and Litter Awareness

We look for new ways to engage and educate our guests through promotional messages in-restaurant and in the neighbouring communities. We support litter prevention through messaging on our packaging such as “Put Waste in Its Place,” and the majority of our restaurants also post a “Be a Good Neighbour, Don’t Litter” message at the exit of their drive-thrus.

we participated in 316 local community clean-ups in 2013!Our support for Community Clean-Ups and Litter Awareness campaigns is an example of how we encourage our guests and communities to participate in diversion programs to keep our neighbourhoods clean. In April 2013, 1,949 of our restaurants participated in the Anti-Litter Awareness Program.

To help tackle litter in our communities, we have taken a leadership role by supporting local community clean-up initiatives. Throughout the year, our restaurants partner with municipalities, schools and local community groups to support a variety of community clean-up programs. In 2013, we supported 316 local community clean-ups across Canada, which was an 84% increase in the number of clean-ups from 2012.

Collaboration and Outreach

In an effort to increase knowledge about the environmental impact of our packaging designs and to increase the availability of recycling programs for our packaging, we continue to collaborate with food service/quick service restaurant industry peers, as well as members of the waste management industry.

In 2013, we were active members of the Food Service Packaging Institute’s Paper Recovery Alliance and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC). We also worked with the Recycling Council of Ontario as a member of the board of directors. These groups share our commitment to improving end-of-life solutions for packaging, and reducing the environmental impact of packaging designs. These forums also give us an opportunity to engage with our peers in meaningful discussion and initiatives concerning packaging.

We will continue to collaborate with stakeholders who share our commitment to reducing the environmental impact of the materials we source, as well as diverting waste from landfill.

Funding for Municipal Recycling Programs

funding municipal recycingTim Hortons contributes funds to mandatory packaging stewardship programs in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba. These programs help to finance municipal recycling programs in the respective regions.

Fees are paid on packaging and paper materials that may enter municipal recycling programs, regardless of whether they are actually collected and managed by the programs. This includes all of our Tim Hortons branded packaging, such as our hot beverage cups.

In addition to funds contributed to these programs, we are also active participants in the advancement of the programs as they work to increase participation and recycling rates for various materials.

In 2013, we worked with Stewardship Ontario (SO), both as a member of the board of directors as well as participating as a partner on pilot programs to increase diversion of hot beverage cups in municipal Blue Box programs. We also continued to work with other businesses to develop a similar funding program for British Columbia through the creation of Multi-Material British Columbia. Beginning in 2014, as required by regulation, Tim Hortons and other packaging stewards will begin funding the recovery of packaging generated by residents of British Columbia. The program is also tasked with increasing the recycling rate for these materials from 50%–57% to 75%. As these and other similar programs are expected to expand across Canada, we are working with the Canadian Steward Services Alliance to harmonize elements of these programs and move towards national recycling program standards and benchmarks.

Deposit-Return Programs

Tim Hortons also participates in deposit-return programs for our branded beverage containers in the following areas: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Northwest Territories, Yukon, New York and Maine.

Green Building

Green Building Design

Click here for virtual tour of our LEE restaurantWe are continually evaluating new technology, design and construction methods to improve the energy and water efficiency of our restaurant buildings, and to reduce our overall environmental footprint. This also enables our Restaurant Owners to benefit financially by saving on the utility costs to operate their restaurants. We pilot and test emerging technologies and, where feasible, introduce them into our standard restaurant designs. For a green building product or technology to succeed it must meet three key criteria:

  • Is it cost effective? Up-front costs may sometimes be higher but yield significant payback over time.
  • Is it repeatable? New technologies often require other changes to the restaurants that aren’t feasible for us.
  • Will it work? Many ideas work well in residential or large commercial developments but don’t meet our needs.

One of our biggest initiatives in 2013 was the completion of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for energy efficient LED lighting in our restaurants. We are pleased to announce that in 2014 all of our new restaurants will be equipped with interior and exterior LED lighting wherever possible.

In 2013, we also completed an RFP for Energy Systems Commissioning. Commissioning energy systems is our way of ensuring that we are delivering the best possible restaurants for our Restaurant Owners, our guests and our environment.

After several pilot projects, the Building Standards team also began a formal RFP to find an energy management system. This type of system will not only help control the components of the restaurant, but will also provide them with more data visibility, allowing for more consistent monitoring and greater opportunity for operational improvements and prototype development.


Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

In 2013, we registered three restaurants for LEED® Certification and submitted two for certification with the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI):

    our leed restaurants are 10 - 15% more efficient than non-leed restaurants
  • Calgary, Alberta (registered)
  • Toronto, Ontario (registered)
  • Syracuse, New York (registered)
  • Brampton, Ontario (submitted)
  • Nepean, Ontario (submitted)


Our LEED restaurants are seeing an average water and energy reduction of 10%–15% over our other restaurants, resulting in energy and operational savings for the Restaurant Owners.

Tim Hortons was awarded the 2013 Environmental Innovation and Initiative Award for Innovation by Ryerson University and Enactus Ryerson for our first LEED certified restaurant in Hamilton, Ontario.  We were also recognized as an Energy Champion by Oakville Hydro Electricity Distribution for our participation in the Save On Energy Retrofit Program.

Tim Hortons representatives attended the 2013 GreenBuild conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and met with U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) representatives and industry peers to discuss LEED, green building and the responsibility of our industry to the planet’s environment.  We also attended Electric Vehicle conferences in Toronto, Ontario, and sit on the Plug in British Columbia Advisory Committee to help shape the future infrastructure of electric vehicle charging stations in Canada.

Being a Leader

We expanded our Electric Vehicle Charging Station pilot in 2013 with six new charging stations across British Columbia and two more in Ontario. This brings the pilot to 10 available stations across Canada. Our Building Standards team is currently conducting a feasibility study to consider the possible expansion of the program across our chain.

Improving Our Restaurant Equipment

Menuboard Program

In 2013, we partnered with a third party recycling company to implement a strategic menuboard recycling program. Old menuboards that were removed during our restaurant renovations were diverted from the landfill, and instead sent to a recycling facility where they were dismantled and separated based on their type and grade of material (including electronics).

Our new menuboards are made from 80% recycled material!The materials were then sold to industry organizations, including steel mills, aluminum foundries or large-scale electronics recyclers.

Our new menuboards are eligible to contribute towards LEED certification points as they are made from 80% recycled material. The remaining 20% is made from primary aluminum which is sourced locally (within 500 metres of their manufacturing facility).

In total, we recycled approximately 230,000 pounds of materials and generated approximately $25,000 in revenues which will be donated to the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation.