Starbucks and Tim Hortons in Canada May Not Actually Be Recycling Their Coffee Cups

The Canadian show ‘Marketplace’ investigated these two coffee chains to see if they were actually recycling their paper cups

Seven cups from each chain were found in the normal garbage cans.

Coffee chains in Canada may boast that they recycle their disposable, paper coffee cups, but a new investigation finds that that may not be the case.

The Canadian show Marketplace from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) revealed that some Starbucks and Tim Hortons stores in Toronto may be sending the recyclable cups to landfills instead of a recycling plant.

“It's pretty shocking,” Conrad MacKerron, senior vice-president of As You Sow, a non-profit that works to promote corporate environmental and social responsibility, told Marketplace's Erica Johnson.

Marketplace reporters put tracking devices in cups at 14 Tim Hortons and 14 Starbucks stores, and returned later on to see where they ended up. Seven cups from each chain were found in garbage bins, not recycling bins. The reporters also went back to 10 locations of each chain to see if they offer the option to order coffee in a ceramic mug instead of a disposable cup. None of the stores offer mugs.


Starbucks and Tim Hortons declined to speak with Marketplace on camera about the investigation and said they would look into recycling practices across Canada. The Marketplace investigation will air on October 30 at 8 p.m.