Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart and the recycling organization Return-It launched collection stations Wednesday around the city in a bid to reduce single-use cup waste.

Stations will be installed in public and commercial spaces to collect and clean reusable cups and recycle disposable cups. Companies participating in the program are Tim Hortons, Starbucks, A&W Canada, and McDonald’s Canada.

In addition to single-use cups for hot and cold beverages, the pilot will also introduce a reusable cup program. Customers can sign up to use reusable cups that will be washed, sanitized and returned to retail locations.

Return-It says there will be 11 bins in public spaces, and 10 inside selected Tim Hortons restaurants. The company will evaluate the six-month pilot program to determine whether a permanent program could work in Vancouver and elsewhere.

For reusable cups, Return-It will wash, sanitize and return the cups to each participating brand for redistribution to customers.

“We are excited to be working alongside our partners to make a difference in keeping single-use cups out of landfills and to provide consumers with a more convenient option for reusing cups,” said John Nixon, president of Return-It, in a statement Wednesday.

“We’re always looking for innovative solutions that will improve recovery rates and benefit British Columbians and this program will hopefully act as a scalable template that can be rolled out in other communities.”

The collection bins, which are made from recycled plastics, provide an accessible opportunity to quickly redistribute reusables and recycle single-use cups. For single-use cups, consumers will empty out any liquids in one slot, and place the cups and lids in separate slots.

For reusable cups, consumers will empty any liquid into the slot provided, scan the QR code on the bin and then scan the QR code on the cup before placing it in a slot marked for reusables. Cups that are washed and repacked by Return-It will be returned to restaurants to be put back into circulation.

Once the pilot wraps up, results will be analyzed to evaluate a scalable solution for a cups program that is convenient for customers, according to Return-It.

Vancouver’s ban on plastic bags and fees began Jan. 1, meaning businesses are no longer allowed to offer plastic bags, and they are required to charge fees for paper bags and single-use cups.

The ban includes plastic shopping bags made from fossil fuels, plastic bags labelled or described as compostable or degradable, and plastic bags made from plants or other biological materials.

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