What Wood You Do for Sustainable Solutions?

Photo Credit: Joel & Jasmin Førestbird

By Howie Goldfinger, CEO, Ecorite

Three days before Christmas, 2022, Tim Hortons announced that, starting early in 2023, they were introducing some new sustainable and biodegradable solutions to replace items recently banned by Canadian government, namely single-use plastic cutlery, coffee lids, and sandwich wraps. Their solution? Wood!

Yes, starting in January of 2023 Tim Hortons locations across Canada will begin using wooden and fibre cutlery and fibre lids for its bowls. These will combine with the paper straws, wooden stir sticks and 100% recycled fibre take-out bags that were already in implementation. The company website reports that they are eliminating the use of more than 90 million single-use plastics annually. Bravo Tim Hortons; or should I say, “bravo Canadian government” for instituting this ban in the first place?

Tim Hortons is not alone in their packaging substitutions. All other fast-food operations and large consumers of plastic bags, such as groceries are also being forced into alternatives. It is a virtual certainty that the added costs of these alternatives will be passed on to consumers, as the major food and fast-food chains are unlikely to absorb the increased cost of packaging brought on by these mandated changes. It is commendable, however in my view, that Tim’s made the decision to go compostable along with re-usable, such as their Borrow-A-Cup program. This contrasts with Walmart’s solution, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, that replaces a single-use plastic with a more durable, harder-to-dispose-of alternative, and leaves it to the consumer to deal with the ensuing problem.

The changes to plastics generation/consumption, aren’t over in Canada, as the Canadian government’s Roadmap to Strengthen the Management of Single-Use and Disposable Plastics, which eliminates the manufacture, sale, import or export of a number of plastic products on into 2025.  As businesses look ahead as to what is best for them, businesses should take time to consider whether their ultimate packaging solutions will impair or contribute to the goal of improving the health of the planet. It may be understood, and even accepted that some social costs, such as the cost of waste disposal, have to be borne by society in general, so your customers should be able to cope with the increased costs of packaging some of these environmental changes will bring about. A plan that considers the needs of the customers will not leave them with the problem of disposing unused tote bags, for instance. Ecorite sells a variety of products that either come from, or revert into reusable or biodegradable material, and we are happy to advise as to what might be best for your needs.