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Leeds recycling initiative to help homeless this Christmas

Hubbub's Trewin Restorick with two of the recycling reward machines in Leeds
Hubbub's Trewin Restorick with two of the recycling reward machines in Leeds
A new initiative in Leeds hopes to encourage students to donate to charity at the same time as recycling.

Two recycling reward machines situated on the Leeds Beckett University campus will be donating 10 pence to charity every time someone deposits a drinks bottle, can or coffee cup.

This initiative is part of #LeedsByExample, a multi-strand behavioural change project taking place in and around Leeds city centre. Organised by environmental campaigns charity Hubbub, the project is focusing on improving on-the-go recycling, capturing items like coffee cups, plastic bottles, cans and food packaging that are most often consumed and thrown away by people on the move.

According to Hubbub, the food-to-go industry is worth £17.4 billion a year, predicted to rise to £23 billion by 2022. But this industry presents specific difficulties for local authorities, with valuable material lost to the residual waste stream due to a lack of collection infrastructure as well as poor communications about how and where people should dispose of their rubbish.

The machines at Leeds Beckett were originally offering 10 pence vouchers which could be used to get money off at any of the retail outlets on campus. From now until Christmas Day the machines will instead be making donations to St George’s Crypt, a charity providing care and support to homeless and vulnerable adults.

Commenting on the announcement, Gavin Ellis, Director and Co-founder of Hubbub, said: "This is a pioneering use of a recycling reward machine to donate to charity and we think it will be a fantastic way to raise money for a good cause. Our campaign is all about improving rates of recycling in the city and we hope this will be an added incentive to get people recycling bottles, cans and cups, while also helping those in need in the run up to Christmas.”

Andrew Omond, Project Manager at St George’s Crypt, said: “Over the Christmas period we serve close to 100 lunches a day, have almost 50 residents having three meals a day and serve free tea and coffee from 11am to 1pm. Donations from the machines will go towards supporting this service over the Christmas period and beyond, making sure that the most vulnerable get a solid foundation of shelter, food and warmth to take on the challenges they are faced with.”

Innovative consumer engagement techniques

The six month #LeedsByExample campaign, which was launched at the start of October, has seen Hubbub working with Leeds City Council and a range of businesses in the city – including Coca-Cola GB, Costa Coffee and McDonald’s – to improve on-the-go recycling. Hubbub has been building on the success of its previous behaviour change campaigns, such as the such as the Neat Streets Litter campaign in Westminster, and the London Square Mile Challenge, using a range of different methods to encourage consumer engagement.

Five recycling reward machines in total installed around the city, along with a range of fun and attention-grabbing concepts such as a bin that blows bubbles when it receives bottles and cans. A new recycling app, designed with OPRL (On-Pack Recycling Label Ltd), was also launched to coincide with the campaign, designed to allow consumers to scan their drinks containers and find the nearest recycling point.

The results of the trial in Leeds will be shared openly after the six months is over, with the goal of a national roll-out of the most successful elements.

For more information, visit the Hubbub website.

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