A&W Canada to pilot Zero Cup across Toronto; designed by UK-based ButterflyCup, Zero Cup requires no lid or straw, contains no plastic liner, is made entirely of paper with a water-based coating to prevent leaks, and is fully compostable and recyclable

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TORONTO , March 14, 2022 (press release) –

Each year, an estimated 5 billion single-use cups end up in Canadian landfills. A&W Canada is proud to be the first major quick-service restaurant (QSR) brand to pilot a new, truly innovative sustainable cup design, beginning March 14 in participating restaurants across Toronto.

A&W's strange-looking Zero Cup requires no lid or straw, contains no plastic liner, and is fully compostable and recyclable. The cup, a design innovation from UK-based ButterflyCup, is made entirely of paper, with a unique, water-based coating that prevents leaks. A&W is the first major brand in North America to use the cup.

"Each year, A&W Canada serves millions of takeout drinks, so finding a more sustainable single-use cup solution is one way we can make a big difference," says Susan Senecal, President & CEO of A&W Canada. "Our new Zero Cup is an exciting step in our journey to reach zero waste. Part of achieving that mission is pioneering the innovations that people need to live more sustainable lives. This new cup is one small way Canadians can take small, simple actions, one day at a time."

Roughly 14 billion cups of coffee are enjoyed in Canada every year, according to non-profit Zero Waste Canada, of which an estimated 5 billion are consumed in single-use cups that end up in landfills. Mass adoption of a compostable coffee cup would help to substantially reduce this number by avoiding the use of plastic liners that can't be recycled in most Canadian municipalities. (Note: A&W has been a member of the Zero Waste Council since 2016, but the organization has no connection to the Zero Cup). As part of this pilot initiative, which rolls out in restaurants across the GTA on March 14, A&W guests are invited to share their experience trying the Zero Cup for the first time at aw.ca/zerocup.

Tomorrow Cafe

For all those interested in sustainable innovation, A&W is previewing the Zero Cup at a public event on March 25 and 26 at Evergreen Brickworks. Tomorrow Cafe is a temporary installation where guests are invited to try the Zero Cup for themselves, along with a free cup of A&W's organic, Fairtrade coffee. The installation, open to the public on Friday, March 25 12:30-3:30pm and Saturday, March 26 at 8:00am-4pm, will also explore A&W's sustainability innovations past, present, and future — and invite visitors to share innovations they would like to see in the food retail space.

A&W Canada's Sustainable Past and Future

The Zero Cup is the latest initiative in the company's long-time commitment to innovation in sustainability:

  • A&W restaurants have been serving A&W Root Beer in their iconic glass mugs since 1956.
  • Most A&W restaurants offer metal baskets, compostable burger packaging, ceramic plates and metal cutlery for breakfasts.
  • In 2016, A&W became the first restaurant chain to join Canada's Zero Waste Council
  • In 2018, A&W was the first to introduce the Beyond Meat burger.
  • In 2019, A&W Canada became the first QSR in North America to eliminate sing-use plastic straws.
  • In 2020, A&W introduced grass-fed and finished beef as part of its commitment to championing the growing regenerative agriculture movement.
  • Last year, a circular mug pilot program called the A&W Cup Crew, was launched in Vancouver. A&W Canada is also joining a pilot program with Return-It to explore ways to recycle the existing single-use coffee cups — all in the search of a better coffee cup for Canadians.

About A&W Canada
A&W is proud to be a 100% Canadian-owned-and-operated company, and one of the most trusted brands in the country. A sustainable leader in the QSR industry, we believe in helping our customers take small, simple actions for the good of people and the planet. From using compostable packaging and 100% grass-fed beef to fundraising in support of Canadians living with Multiple Sclerosis, we strive to make a positive impact in our communities. We're all about serving up great taste with simple, natural ingredients and minimal waste in over 1,000 restaurants across the country. For more information, please visit aw.ca.

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Dan Rivard
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