The trial builds on a similar pilot project carried out last year in Ontario and is part of the restaurant chain’s efforts to reduce its single-use waste output.
As part of the trial, customers can borrow reusable cups by depositing $4, including tax, from one of ten participating Tim Hortons restaurants.
They can return the cups at any of these restaurants or at one of 11 Return-It stations across Vancouver and receive their deposits back via e-transfer.
Return-It will then collect, wash, sanitise and return the cups to Tim Hortons.
Following the trial, the partners will evaluate a scalable solution for a reusable cup programme and the feasibility of a broader, permanent programme.
Tim Hortons innovation and sustainability senior director Paul Yang said: “We’re excited to partner with Return-It on this pilot programme as we work towards making all of our guest packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable.
“Tim Hortons has been testing a number of ways to scale reusable and returnable packaging systems, as well as increase the recyclability of single-use cups.
“Through this programme with industry partners and the City of Vancouver, we hope to learn and develop innovative solutions for the future.”
In addition to the reusable cup programme, Tim Hortons and Return-It have launched a recycling trial for paper and plastic single-use cups.
As part of this trial, the fast-food chain’s coffee and cold beverage cups can be recycled in British Columbia and are accepted through municipal kerbside recycling programmes.
Earlier this year, Tim Hortons’ owner Restaurant Brands International (RBI) pledged to end the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in its food packaging by 2025.