Retail giants back campaign to reduce Leeds litter

A new campaign to address rising levels of littering from consumers on the move has been launched by behavioural change charity Hubbub in Leeds City Centre and Seacroft Estate. Financially backed by 23 major companies, Hubbub hopes to influence the throwaway culture in Leeds over the next six months.

Prior to the campaign launch, Hubbub conducted a survey of visitors to Leeds City Centre in August 2018 and found that 52 per cent of respondents had thrown away recyclable waste, such as plastic bottles, cans, coffee cups and food packaging – a statistic it hopes to drastically reduce.

The scheme, called #LeedsByExample, has been in the making since June, supported by both Leeds City Council and a wide range of local businesses, enabling a large network of influence to be established across the city. With the financial endorsement of a long list of household names such as Coca-Cola GB, Costa Coffee, McDonald’s, Shell and more, the campaign is Hubbub’s biggest to date.

 Retail giants back campaign to reduce Leeds litter
Councillor Rafique stands with the Re-Cycler and the innovative new bin designs from Hubbub

Councillor Mohammad Rafique, Leeds City Council executive board member for environment and active lifestyles, said: “With this pilot, innovative technology and interventions will be tested across our city and we are really pleased to see many businesses signed up already to this campaign, from universities to restaurants, shops and offices. 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.”

The campaign will be focusing on the growing food and drink ‘to go’ sector. Last year, Hubbub found that this sector alone was worth £17.4 billion. 13 billion plastic bottles, 9 billion drinks and 2.5 billion coffee cups are purchased annually, half of which are then thrown away by consumers on the move.

To tackle this rising issue, Hubbub will be trialling an innovative list of behaviour change techniques, such as:

  • The launch of a new OPRL (On-Pack Recycling Label) app, which will enable consumers to scan drink containers and coffee cups to find their nearest recycling point;
  • Five recycling reward machines based in universities, shops, shopping centres and petrol stations, which will provide people with a reward for recycling plastic bottles and coffee cups;
  • A ‘Re-Cycler’ bike, which will offer consumers sweet treats for recycling; and
  • A Bubble-blowing bin promoting the recycling message, releasing bubbles in exchange for plastic bottles and cans.

 Retail giants back campaign to reduce Leeds litterHubbub will also be using playful messages to communicate the concept of recycling to the consumer, such as ‘empty plastic and cans, nowt else’ written on recycling bins.

These informative yet eye-catching messages should improve the quality of recycling collected, by preventing recycling being contaminated by liquids, tea bags and leftover food. Aside from recycling bins, Hubbub will also have messages at road crossings and parks, a large shipping container display, and a comprehensive social media communication regime, all to influence consumers whilst they are on the go.

Can Leeds initiate nationwide change?

The production of waste on the go is predicted to rise in the UK, and research by plastics recycling charity RECOUP has found that less than half of local authorities have the street infrastructure needed to collect and recycle this litter. With any luck, Hubbub’s #LeedsByExample campaign will reduce the amount of litter that is produced in the first place, through a wide variety of behavioural change techniques.

Gavin Ellis, Director and Co-founder of Hubbub, said: “We’re interested to discover which of these will make the biggest difference and will share what we learn openly so that the most successful elements can be rolled out in Leeds and nationally.”

To ensure that the success of the campaign is judged objectively, it will be overseen by the global sustainability consultancy Anthesis, and supported by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and local environmental consultant Dr Elaine Kerrell. As Leeds is the UK’s third largest city, with the largest centre outside London for a wide variety of industries, it is hoped the city will become an example to other across the UK, leading to a nationwide roll-out of the techniques employed during the campaign.

If successful, the campaign will follow in the footsteps of Hubbub’s other behaviour change initiatives such as the Neat Streets Litter campaign in Westminster, or the London Square Mile Challenge, which has recycled over 6 million coffee cups since April last year.

To find out about the events on over the next six months and how you can help recycle within Leeds, check out Hubbub’s website.

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