Leeds Uses Bubble-Bins in City Centre to Push Recycling   

Leeds has been chosen as the host city of a large initiative to encourage recycling. Bins that blow bubbles and machines that offer rewards are just two of the innovative recycling resources that are being trialled in the city between October 2018 and April 2019.

The project, called #LeedsByExample, is claimed to be the biggest push to improve out-of-house recycling. New and technologically-original recycling stations are located all over the city centre, from the streets, offices and shopping centres to public transport areas and University campuses.

“Together we can make a real impact on recycling rates in Leeds city centre.”

Mohammed Rafique, Executive Member for the Environment on Leeds City Council said: “I’m encouraging as many local businesses and organisations as possible to get behind this project so that together we can make a real impact on recycling rates in Leeds city centre.” Businesses backing the scheme include Asda, Costa Coffee, Marks and Spencer, McDonalds, Morrisons and Starbucks.

Behind this six month trial are environmental behaviour change charity ‘Hubbub’ and recycling compliance scheme ‘Ecosurety’. The director of Hubbub, Gavin Ellis, is hopeful that this initiative will make recycling more accessible, commenting that “the huge range of eye-catching recycling bins and communications throughout Leeds city centre will make it really easy for residents, workers and visitors to spot their nearest recycling point.”

It is hoped that this new initiative will help get more young people into recycling, especially since around 57% of Leeds population is aged between 16 and 24. In accordance with this, the scheme is launching the first UK trial of a unique recycling smartphone app called ‘We-Recycle’. The app allows users to scan barcodes on recyclable packaging to help them understand what can be recycled and how to do it properly. The app also includes a map feature, showing users where their nearest recycling point is.

As well as the bins that exchange recyclable items for a spurt of bubbles, recycling machines that offer discount vouchers when coffee cups and packaging are disposed of have also been installed at Leeds Kirkgate Market and Leeds Beckett University. In addition, various spots around the city centre will see the collection of cargo bikes, called ‘Re-Cyclers’ that swap empty plastic bottles and cans for sweet treats.

However, it is not just about the actual recycling facilities. Various recycling related artwork has been displayed around the city centre too. Briggate is home to a shipping container full of rubbish, as well as lots of eye-catching street signs. Quirky messages such as ‘empty plastic and cans, nowt else’ are printed on bins too, in an attempt to encourage and educate the public on the importance of recycling.

The results of this scheme will be shared at the end of the six month trial. It is hoped that the most successful elements will eventually be introduced across the nation.

Amelia Cutting

Image: [Megan Cummings]