Success of ground-breaking recycling on-the-go trial sparks expansion into Scotland and Wales

Leeds by Example, the UK’s biggest collaborative drive to boost recycling of some of the most common food and drink packaging consumed ‘on-the-go’, has inspired cities in Scotland and Wales to launch their own campaigns.

Launched to help address the UK’s extremely low on-the-go recycling rates, the ground-breaking six-month trial in Leeds has doubled the number of people recycling plastic, cans and coffee cups, with 600,000 cups being recycled in less than six months. The model will be rolled out in Swansea and Edinburgh later this year and will continue for a further six months in Leeds city centre, environmental charity Hubbub have announced.

Launched in October 2018 by Hubbub and Ecosurety, Leeds by Example has brought together a unique combination of 25 national partners who are funding the scheme and 29 local partners, including Leeds City Council. Together they have installed 124 new recycling points in Leeds city centre, including on-street bins, recycle reward machines which offer money-off vouchers in return for recycling, and other recycling points in retailers and workplaces.

Results from the trial show the proportion of people disposing of plastic, cans and coffee cups in a recycling bin almost doubled from 17% to 32%. In addition to the significant number of coffee cups recycled, 65,000 cans and 55,000 bottles were also recycled during the six-month period.

The campaign grabbed the public’s attention with brightly coloured recycling bins, bins that burp and blow bubbles when used, a giant coffee cup installation and a ‘Re-Cycler’ recycling collection bike which were positioned in various locations such as universities and shopping centres. Polling showed that 82% of the public in Leeds city centre have seen the campaign.

The extension in Lees city centre will increase the number of on-street recycling bins to around 100, introduce more cup collections, and further engage the local business community. In September, the Recycling on the Go initiative will be available in Swansea and Edinburgh, building on what has been learned in Leeds to increase recycling levels in those cities.

Gavin Ellis, co-founder and director of Hubbub, said: “We’re thrilled with the campaign’s success so far and it’s the start of a wider ambition – to create a legacy for Leeds and a tried and tested replicable model for other cities to follow. We’re already looking forward to rolling out the campaign to Edinburgh and Swansea in September and we encourage other cities to get in touch about the possibility of launching in their area in 2020.”

James Piper, CEO at Ecosurety, said: “Not only has the Leeds by Example campaign provided some valuable insights on how we can successfully implement on-the-go recycling infrastructure, it has shown that leading brands and retailers now recognise the vitally important role that consumers play in our recycling system. Collaboration and education are critical components to an effective recycling process – Leeds by Example shows us why. We are delighted with the outcomes of Leeds by Example and look forward to working with Hubbub to develop the campaign further in Edinburgh and Swansea later this year.”

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