Homeless in Vancouver: The dos and donuts of RRRolling up the rim at Tim Hortons

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      No one has to tell a Canadian that the Tim Hortons Roll up the Rim contest is currently underway. We just know.

      We know even if we don’t buy anything at one of the 4,486 (as of 2018) locations of this seemingly iconic (majority Brazilian-owned) Canadian fast food chain—named after a Scottish-Canadian NHL hockey player and renowned for the coffee and donuts it serves. (Not to mention the holes in its donuts that it also sells.)

      We know, not because of any special ability (such as "helps birds know the direction of true north") but simply because of how many more empty Tim Hortons paper cups we can see laying about.

      And because these distinctive, discarded paper cups—whether they’re rolling around on the sidewalks, laying flat on the roads, poking out of shrubbery, or nestled snugly in container recycling bins (as they properly should to be, here in B.C.)—all have clearly uncurled lips!

      The stereotypical and slightly trashy Canadian fast food contest

      This discarded Tim cup was almost in the right place. At least it was sitting on the lid of a container blue bin.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      Here are a few of my personal observations about the Tim Hortons Roll Up the Rim Contest, structured as a series of “do” and “don’t” (a.k.a. “donut”) prescriptions and proscriptions.

      Do roll the first ‘R’ in “Roll up the Rim”, the way Scottish people do, or at least the way that they used to do.

      According to such authorities as The Scotsman newspaper, this is increasing no longer how the Scottish people roll, language-wise. Many young Scots are now rolling the ‘R’ so softly that it is almost inaudible.

      Donut, under any circumstances, roll the second ‘R”. In official TimSpeak only the first R is supposed to be rolled, as in “RRRoll Up the Rim.”

      Perhaps the restaurant chain learned, to its cost, that rapid rolling of the “R” can be harmful to non-Scots. Perhaps there were injuries, lawsuits—out of court settlements.

      Perhaps many permanently tongue-tied Tim Hortons customers had to be quietly bought off with lifetime supplies of tiny Timbits and weak Tim coffee.

      “Just sign these double-double copies of the nondisclosure agreement, please.”

      Very low-yield Canadian hedge fund, seen on the property of a Fairview gas station.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      Do roll up to a Tim Hortons of your choice and try your luck.

      Donut get your hopes up though.

      While the Roll up the Rim contest overtly trades on the stereotypical Scottish accent, it quietly exemplifies another stereotypical Scottish quality, namely frugality (a.k.a. stinginess), where the big ticket prizes are concerned.

      This year’s Roll Up the Rim contest advertises millions of food prizes; 50,000 Tim gift cards, 100 gift bank cards (each worth five grand), 100 average-quality bicycles, and 40 cars.

      On the first day of the contest (“on or about February 6”), customers enjoyed a one-in-six chance of winning, which is to say that they could expect to win 16.66 prizes for every 100 purchases. This is actually that much worse than McDonald’s Canada’s Coast-to-Coast Monopoly contest, which is one-in-five, or 20 wins out of 100.

      Several YouTubers, who purchased 100 Roll Up the Rim cups in 2017, all had about a one-in-six winning ratio but, significantly, their prizes were all of the low-value, instant win, coffee, and food variety.

      One YouTuber from Toronto, named Savannah, told CTV News in 2017 that she spent $120 on 100 new cups and won 16 prizes: 11 coffees, 5 donuts, and 1 helping of potato wedges.

      Also (as the YouTuber’s results showed) donut expect to win the larger prizes by paying more for the larger cup sizes.

      Closeup of a cup left high and dry on a Dumpster lid.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      Donut just throw your Tim Hortons paper takeaway cups on the ground when you are finished with them!

      Do please make the extra effort to properly dispose of your cups. At worst, toss them in an actual waste receptacle—whether in-store at a Tim Hortons, or in a proper sidewalk trash receptacle.

      Better yet, go to the slight trouble of bringing your empty Tim cups home with you. Then you can properly tuck them into your home’s municipal recycling.

      Paper takeaway coffee cups—which all have a nearly invisible plastic coating on their inside surface—have been allowed in the Recycle B.C. residential packaging and printed paper recycling program since 2015.

      As RecycleBC explains (again and again), paper takeaway coffee cups and other “polycoated” containers should be placed in residential recycling blue boxes or bins designated for “containers”. This way they really will be recycled and stay out of the landfill.

      What they currently do recycling-wise with paper cups

      Two Tim cups that successfully made it into a recycling bin. There’s a longer journey ahead of them.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      Many people will have read how China, in 2018, closed its border to many kinds of recycling waste, for postconsumer processing, including polycoat paper cups. As has been widely reported, this action by the Chinese government, has thrown a monkey wrench in the recycling programs of many municipalities in Canada, United States, and around the world. But not here in British Columbia.

      In February of 2018, Allen Langdon, managing director of Recycle B.C., assured the B.C. media that the Chinese ban on foreign recycling material would have little effect on the province’s recycling system. He explained that recyclable plastics have been processed in B.C. since 2014 and that the recyclable paper and cardboard shipped abroad for processing is the “cleanest material in North America” and therefore meets China’s stringent new guidelines.

      In March of 2018, I asked Recycle B.C. for additional clarification regarding what exactly happens to plastic-coated, paper coffee cups (a.k.a. “polycups”) that made it into the B.C. municipal blue box recycling system.

      In an email reply, Lyndsey Chauhan, Recycle B.C.'s director of marketing and communications, wrote that “polycups are sorted and baled with other Polycoat materials, including cartons for milk, soup, etc., and are sent for recycling. This material is sent overseas for recycling, however, not to China.”

      B.C.’s polycups, she explained, are actually processed in South Korea, where they are recycled into tissue and toilet paper. 

      Stanley Q. Woodvine is a homeless resident of Vancouver who has worked in the past as an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer. Follow Stanley on Twitter at @sqwabb.