Restaurant Brands International (RBI), parent company of Tim Hortons®, Burger King®, and Popeyes® brands, has announced new commitments* to help address climate change. RBI will collaborate with franchisees and suppliers to pursue science-based targets (SBTs) for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50% by 2030, compared to a 2019 base year.

These targets were approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and based on the SBTi Criteria and Recommendations. In addition, RBI has set a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 or sooner.  The goals are part of the company’s broader Restaurant Brands for Good strategy and seek to achieve business growth without emissions growth.

We connected with Paul Yang, the Tim Hortons Senior Director of Innovation and Sustainability, about changes at Tims that will contribute to the science-based targets plan.

In analyzing the Tim Hortons footprint and how we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, what did you identify as some of the most significant areas of opportunity?

We learned that a majority of the emissions in our footprint originate in our supply chain, so that’s an area where we know we’ll need to focus our attention over the long term. What we mean here are the emissions associated with the entire lifecycle of the food and drinks we serve – beginning from the time your favourite ingredients are being grown on a farm, all the way through to when they reach Tim Hortons restaurants. Now that we better understand our footprint, we’re studying the actions that can have the most meaningful impact. One key opportunity for us over the coming years is to work on promoting leading environmental stewardship practices already underway in the agricultural supply chain, in partnership with suppliers, researchers, farmers and ranchers.

How about the travel component and the need to criss-cross the vastness of the country with trucks — after all, there are Tims restaurants just about everywhere in Canada.

We have a large footprint of restaurants across Canada, nearly 4,000 from coast to coast to coast. It is a reality that there are long distances that we need to travel to ensure every restaurant has the supply it needs to cater to our guests. To begin to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from those trips, we have a plan to transition from traditional vehicles to electric vehicles instead. When it comes to our greater truck fleet, we plan to transition over 70% of our Tim Hortons Canada trucks to electric by 2030. We will also work towards transitioning 100% of our corporate vehicle fleet to electric by 2030, starting in 2023.

What’s being done to reduce emissions in Tim Hortons buildings and restaurants in Canada?

Starting next year, we plan to purchase renewable energy for 100% of the electricity used in our distribution centres and manufacturing facilities, such as our coffee roastery.

Our plan also includes beginning to purchaserenewable energy for restaurant use starting in 2025 or sooner, in order to increase our use of renewable energy over time.

To date, Tim Hortons restaurant design standards for new restaurants and renovations in Canada have incorporated elements such as LED lighting, reflective roof design, an electrical energy management system, and increased air ventilation, which all support reduced energy use. This year, we’ll test updated energy efficient initiatives and equipment through a pilot restaurant, and will use what we learn to develop updated design standards that we intend to begin implementing in newly built and remodeled restaurants starting next year.

How does meeting these targets fit into the overall philosophy of the Tims For Good platform?

We have built a culture at Tim Hortons that puts questions about sustainability at the forefront, whether it’s in assessing our current practices or planning how Tim Hortons will operate in the years and decades to come.

We’re proud that Tim Hortons is contributing to Restaurant Brands International’s plan to achieve science-based targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

And we’re proud of our previous sustainability work, including announcements we’ve made about improving packaging. These improvements to our cups and straws and more are all part of Tims For Goodand the philosophy that given our scale, every big or small thing we do or change has the potential to make a big impact.

* RBI’s GHG Emissions Targets:

SBTs: Compared to a 2019 base year, by 2030, RBI aims to reduce:

-     Absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 50%

-     Scope 3 GHG emissions intensity by 50% per metric ton of food

- Scope 3 GHG emissions intensity by 50% per franchise restaurant

Net-Zero: RBI also aims to reach net-zero emissions by 2050