Resource Use

On-street recycling launches for first time in Edinburgh

Environmental behaviour change charity Hubbub and The City of Edinburgh Council have launched new on-the-go recycling facilities in Edinburgh City Centre as part of a new recycling initiative in the Scottish Capital.

The new initiative, called #InTheLoop and launched yesterday (23 October), will see eye-catching bins and art installations placed around Edinburgh designed to encourage passers-by to recycle plastic bottles, cans and coffee cups on the street.

The five-month trial aims to boost on-the-go recycling rates, which are still low despite an improvement in home and kerbside recycling. In the UK around 5.5 billion plastic bottles, 2.7 billion drinks cans and 2.5 billion coffee cups get thrown away every year and recent research by  RECOUP  found that only 42 per cent of local authorities provide facilities to recycle on the move. Studies show only 0.25 per cent of disposable coffee cups are currently recycled.

One of Hubbub's on-street recycling bins.
One of Hubbub's on-street recycling bins.
A similar initiative was carried out in Leeds last year. The ‘Leeds By Example’ campaign, launched in October 2018, introduced a range of behaviour-changing installations around the city, including colourful, interactive bins and five ‘recycling reward’ machines, which give out a reward to people handing in plastic bottles and coffee cups.

A report from Hubbub in May 2019 estimated that the proportion of people putting their drinks containers in a recycling bin rose from 17 per cent to 32 per cent in six months. It also calculated that 600,000 coffee cups were recycled in that time – a huge leap considering the city’s coffee cup recycling was virtually non-existent before the trial.

Hubbub went on to launch #InTheLoop in Swansea last month, using colour-coded bins – yellow for plastic bottles, glass and cans and orange for coffee cups. The same colour coding is being brought to Edinburgh, amongst other eye-catching communications.

Two Scotland-based artists, Sam Cornwell and Cody Lukas, have created an innovative geometric installation in St Andrew Square to raise awareness of recycling issues. Using solar panels, the installation lights up at night, displaying plastic bottles, drinks cans and coffee cups to demonstrate the value of these materials. The artwork will be displayed until early 2020.  

Commenting on the latest initiative, Alex Robinson, Managing Director of Hubbub Enterprise,said: “For the first time, the people of Edinburgh will be able to recycle whilst on the move. The impact our pilot campaign had on the city of Leeds far surpassed our expectations and with the support of the local community, we hope Edinburgh will do the same.

“We’re urging people working in, living in or visiting Edinburgh New Town to use the new-look bins and help us ensure that as much valuable packaging is recycled as possible. We also look forward to launching coffee cup recycling facilities in the city in the near future.” 

The #InTheLoop campaign is just one of many initiatives being carried out in Scotland to help drive the country towards its goals of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2045, as laid out in the Scottish Government’s Circular Economy Bill.

For example, following consultations from the Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures (EPECOM), the Scottish Government has just announced plans to legislate for a charge to be applied on single-use drinks and coffee cups in a bid to reduce the consumption and environmental impact of these disposable products.

An increase in the charge for plastic carrier bags is also under discussion, with EPECOM suggesting a 10-pence charge instead of the current 5-pence charge.

Hubbub’s initiative – which is the UK’s biggest collaborative approach to boost recycling on-the-go – is being backed by a number of big companies, including Starbucks, Ecosurety, Asda, Bunzl, Caffè Nero, Coca-Cola GB, Costa Coffee, Danone, Highland Spring Group, Innocent Drinks, Lucozade Ribena Suntory, Marks & Spencer, McDonald’s, Nestlé and Pret a Manger.

The Edinburgh #InTheLoop is also supported by local partners Changeworks, Waverley Mall, Essential Edinburgh BID, and Scotwaste.

Sam Mills, Head of Projects at Changeworks, commented: “We’re excited to be working with Hubbub to deliver this campaign, combining their creativity and our 30 years’ experience in delivering local solutions for low carbon living across Scotland. 

“Disposing of packaging on the go can be really challenging. These new recycling bins will make this much easier across the city centre, and we’re excited to see just how much waste we can keep from being thrown away.”

Find out more about the Edinburgh initiative on Hubbub’s website.

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