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Starbucks Canada Joins Return-It Recycling Pilot Program in Vancouver

Return-It is excited to welcome Starbucks Canada as a new partner in the relaunch of its expanded cup recycling pilot program in the City of Vancouver this spring.  

Starbucks Canada Joins Return-It Recycling Pilot Program in Vancouver

Originally launched in February 2020 with Metro Vancouver, Tim Hortons and A&W, this pilot program is British Columbia’s first initiative to recycle cups in commercial/public buildings and public spaces.

The pilot intends to address the over 1.6 million coffee cups disposed of in the City of Vancouver annually at industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) locations and public spaces.

Metro Vancouver, Tim Hortons and A&W will continue to support the pilot, which was paused shortly after its launch due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While coffee and other plastic cups are collected and recycled through the province’s residential recycling program, more than half of hot and cold cups that are disposed of as garbage in Vancouver come from street locations, public spaces, and public and commercial buildings.

This pilot will help address this gap.

Lids, sleeves and all types of disposable cups – hot or cold – will be collected in Return-It’s collection bins, which are made out of recycled plastic.

All cups collected during the pilot program will be used to identify sustainable, local end markets for paper cups. 

This pilot is a first step to making a quantifiable difference for recycled cups over the long term with the benefit of establishing a scalable template that can be rolled out in other jurisdictions.

Managed by Return-It, the pilot will evaluate recycling end markets for the items collected, test the marketability of different disposable cup materials (such as laminated cups), encourage public participation, and determine the viability of a broader, permanent program.

Upon completion of the pilot, results and learnings will be gathered to develop next steps.

This cup recycling pilot also supports the City of Vancouver’s new single-use bylaw that came into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

Merlin Plastics, a recycling and processing company in New Westminster, B.C., will also be collaborating with the project to support recycling the plastic lids and cups collected.

Effective January 1 and in alignment with the City of Vancouver’s goal to reduce single-use waste, Starbucks will begin charging customers $0.25 for single use cups and will give a portion of the proceeds to Return-It, as voted by Starbucks partners (employees).

Visit for more information.

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Phillip Chu

Friday 7th of January 2022

Can we bring our own cups ?