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Leeds to host new Hubbub on-the-go recycling project

Leeds to host new Hubbub on-the-go recycling project
Hubbub CEO Trewin Restorick with some new recycling bins

Leeds could soon be leading the way in ‘on-the-go’ recycling as it takes part in a new campaign to reduce litter and improve waste collection in the city centre.

The project, called #LeedsByExample, has been developed by environmental behaviour change charity Hubbub and recycling compliance scheme Ecosurety, which meets recycling obligations on behalf of more than 1,000 companies.

On-the-go recycling has proved a sticking point in attempts to improve the UK’s recycling rate, with many busy consumer areas like shopping centres – where food and drink packaging is most often bought and disposed of – lacking the infrastructure to separately collect different items. A 2017 report by plastics recycling charity RECOUP surveyed nearly 100 UK local authorities and found that only 42 per cent provided on-the-go collection bins, meaning a lot of waste that could be recycled ends up sent to landfill or incineration.

The problem was noted by packaging company DS Smith back in March, when it announced it had the capability to recycle all of the UK’s coffee cup waste – a staggering 2.5 billion cups – with the company citing insufficient collection infrasdtructure as the chief barrier to fulfilling this capability, calling on the government to invest more in such facilities.

Now, #LeedsByExample is seeking to address the issue by introducing a range of different recycling options to consumer hubs around Leeds city centre, in partnership with Leeds City Council. The six-month campaign, beginning in September 2018, will build on previous work by Hubbub to tackle on-the-go recycling – including its Neat Streets litter project, which saw the charity develop tailored litter-busting campaigns in Westminster, Sutton, Manchester and Edinburgh. From the Neat Streets campaign came the Ballot Bin, a quirky communications tool-cum-ashtray designed to reduce smoking waste by asking people to vote with their cigarette butt.

In 2017, Hubbub also ran a project to recycle single-use coffee cups in London’s busy Square Mile, which involved dedicated coffee cup bins being placed around the area for collection and processing by Simply Cups, a specialist recycling company. The project has since resulted in more than five million cups being sent for recycling.

Leeds to host new Hubbub on-the-go recycling project
The Ballot Bin asks smokers to vote with their butts

Gavin Ellis, Hubbub’s Director and Co-Founder, told Resource: “We will be building on everything we have learned from previous campaigns such as Neat Streets, Ballot Bins and in particularly the Square Mile Challenge. In many ways what we will trial in Leeds is an extension of the Square Mile Challenge to include all food and drinks packaging, not just coffee cups – Leeds city centre also happens to be a square mile in size.

“There will be new street bins but also new recycling facilities in ‘managed locations’ such as universities, shopping centres, transport hubs and workplaces. We estimate that over 200 new or improved recycling bins will be installed around the city centre.”

Ellis confirmed that collections from these new bins will be managed by local waste companies rather than the council. Also part of the campaign is a new app developed by OPRL, the On-Pack Recycling Label scheme, which will see barcodes on certain items that can be scanned to reveal how and where they can be recycled.

The project has garnered high-profile support from a wide range of organisations including Asda, Co-op, the British Plastics Federation, Coca-Cola GB, Danone, Costa and Shell. Ellis explained how supporting businesses will be contributing: “Retailers have the option to introduce new recycling facilities and communications in their Leeds city centre stores. For producers and manufacturers, there are a range of other ways in which they can get involved, from social media and promotions, providing ambassadors to promote the scheme on the ground in Leeds and providing an end market for materials recycled locally through the trial, such as PET plastic.”

Cllr Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council executive member with responsibility for the environment, commented: “We are excited about being involved with the Hubbub recycling trial and are fully behind getting people to think about recycling as much as they can whether in the home or out and about. Leeds city centre is an ideal test bed for the project, with average weekly footfall of 1.3 million and plenty of people consuming food on the go.

“It’s great to be able to involve local businesses and universities to test out some innovative communications, technology and infrastructure within the city and help show how easy it is to recycle on the go. We’re hoping that Leeds can play its part in helping other cities replicate the things that work - we’re willing to learn from what is successful and help to use it as a stepping stone to continuing to work with local businesses and communities".

Prior to the launch in September, baseline data on recycling and waste collection in the city centre will be collected by an independent agency, which Hubbub will then use to measure the results of the various interventions over the course of the six months. It is hoped these results will be used to inform future on-the-go recycling policy.

Hubbub has also recently launched a high profile campaign to raise awareness of pollution from microfibres – the tiny pieces of fabric released into the water system when synthetic fabrics are washed.

More information about Hubbub and its activities can be found on the charity’s website.

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