‘Leeds By Example’ Campaign Doubles City Centre Recycling Rates

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The number of people recycling plastic, cans and coffee cups in Leeds city centre has almost doubled since the introduction of the Leeds By Example campaign, it was announced today.

After a six-month trial in Leeds, the Leeds By Example campaign has seen the number of people recycling plastic, cans and coffee cups rise from 17% to 32%.

Launched in October 2018 to combat the UK’s extremely low ‘on-the-go’ recycling rates, Leeds By Example is the UK’s largest collaborative drive to boost the recycling rates of common food and drink packaging consumed on-the-go.

The brainchild of Hubbub and Ecosurety, Leeds By Example partnered with Leeds City Council to install 124 new recycling points in Leeds city centre, an area noticeable for its total lack of on-the-go recycling facilities prior to the trial. These facilities included bubble-blowing bins, which burped and blew bubbles for every item recycled, as well as recycle reward machines which offered money-off vouchers to those who recycled their waste.

The use of recycling bins with a focus on interactivity and reward saw a total of 600,000 coffee cups, 65,000 cans and 55,000 bottles recycled within the six-month period. According to polls, 82% of the public in Leeds city centre have seen the Leeds By Example campaign, a testament to its visibility and success.

Despite the offer of rewards and vouchers for recycling, further polls suggest that most people who used them were motivated by a belief in recycling rather than financial rewards.

Speaking on the success of the campaign, 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.  

“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.” 

In a similar tone, Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council executive board member for active lifestyles and the environment said: 

“It’s great to see the Leeds by Example trial has seen numbers of people recycling on the go double in just the space of six months. The message is clearly getting across to people and the various city centre recycling options and incentive machines have been widely used. We are hearing great things from people across the city which is why we are very pleased to see the extension of the scheme to include even more opportunities for recycling in our city centre.” 

The success of the trial in Leeds has led to cities in Scotland and Wales such as Swansea and Edinburgh choosing to launch their own recycling campaigns, which will be visible to the public from September.

The Leeds By Example model is set to continue for a further six months in Leeds city centre, Hubbub announced earlier this week.