Tim Hortons changes Roll Up the Rim plan due to COVID-19

Coffee QSRs are halting orders made with reuseable mugs, throwing a snag into Tims' attempt to modernize the contest.
Tim Hortons-Roll Up the Rim To Win- 2020- Paper- Digital and Sus

This story has updated below to reflect further changes to this year’s version of Roll Up the Rim.

Tim Hortons will not distribute 1.8 million reusable cups as part of a planned launch of Roll Up the Rim next week, and it will temporarily suspend the use of reusable cups in its restaurants, making it the latest coffee chain to take precautionary measures to curtail the spread of coronavirus.

In a move to signal its commitment to making the annual contest more sustainable – and turn around two years of disappointing returns – Tim Hortons announced last month its decision to hand out 1.8 million reusable mugs at its stores on March 10, one day ahead of the official start of the contest. To further encourage the use of reuseable mugs, customers who purchased their beverage in a reusable mug would receive additional chances to win through the Tim Hortons loyalty app, until the contest’s end on April 7.

On Friday, the chain said it will delay the distribution of those reusable cups until later this year. Instead, customers who bring their own reusable cup to a store and purchase a beverage will be given a paper cup, and still receiving three “digital rolls” in the contest, when scanning their Tims Rewards card or app.

In a statement, Tim Hortons parent company Restaurant Brands International said it is “closely following” developments around coronavirus and “regularly taking advice on health and safety from public health officials and our own internal and external quality assurance and safety specialists.” It added that it would continue to monitor the situation and update procedures as needed.

UPDATE (March 7): Tim Hortons has now decided to remove all paper cups from this year’s Roll Up the Rim contest.

Though a statement does not specifically identify COVID-19, the company says “the current public health environment” means it’s not an appropriate time for staff to handle redeemed tabs that have been in people’s mouths.

The $30 million worth of prizes will be redistrubted to the digital version of the contest and to giveaways at individual restaurants. (End of update, original story continues below).

The decision follows similar announcements at Starbucks and Second Cup.

On Wednesday, Starbucks announced it would no longer fulfill orders in customers’ reusable cups or “for here” ware that stays within its locations. It will continue to honour a 10-cent discount to customers who bring their own mug or request to receive their orders in ceramic mugs for in-store use.

Meanwhile, Second Cup said yesterday it will temporarily stop accepting customers’ reusable mugs, while honouring the 20-cent discount typically provided to those customers. Both Second Cup and Tim Hortons will continue offering ceramic mugs to customers who remain in store.