UK cities inspired by Leeds recycling campaign


Cities in Scotland and Wales have launched recycling campaigns in an attempt to address the UK’s low on-the-go recycling rates.

Inspired by Leeds by Example, which has resulted in the English city of Leeds doubling the number of people recycling plastics, cans and coffee cups in less than six months – and includes the recycling of 600,000 cups and 55,000 bottles – Swansea and Edinburgh will roll out the model later this year.

The Leeds scheme was launched in October 2018 by Hubbub and Ecosurety and has brought together 25 national partners that are funding the scheme, and 29 local partners including Leeds City Council. Together they installed 124 new recycling points in the city centre, including recycle reward machines that offer money-off vouchers in return for recycling.

Some of the brightly coloured bins burp or blow bubbles when used, while a giant coffee cup installation and a ‘Re-Cycler’ recycling collection bike have been positioned in various locations including universities and shopping centres.

According to results from the trial, people disposing of plastics, cans and coffee cups in a recycling bin almost doubled from 17 per cent to 32 per cent. As such, the Leeds trial will be continued with an increase in the number of recycling bins.

Gavin Ellis, co-founder and director of Hubbub, said: “When it comes to recycling the packaging we all use, too often the onus is on local authorities to tackle this issue alone. The success of Leeds By Example shows what can be achieved when partners work together to share expertise, grab public attention and change behaviour. Lack of infrastructure and unclear messaging is a major barrier to recycling in the UK, and results from our trial have shown the importance of new recycling bins supported by a clear, concise call to action.”  

The Recycling on the Go model aims to ensure all plastics bottles, cans and coffee cups collected are reprocessed in the UK and as locally as possible. In Leeds, cans are being reprocessed in Cheshire, plastics bottles in Lincolnshire and cups in Cumbria.

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