Hubbub and compliance scheme Ecosurety are delighted to announce the launch of #LeedsByExample; a collaboration of 24 leading companies who have joined together to trial innovative ways to improve rates of recycling on the go. The campaign will run for six months in Leeds City Centre and the Seacroft Estate on the outskirts of the city.

Whilst recycling at home and kerbside collections have improved over the years, the rate of recycling on the go is still low. In the UK we get through 13 billion plastic bottles, 9 billion drinks cans and 3 billion coffee cups each year and yet recent research by ReCoup found that only 42% of local authorities provide on the go recycling facilities.   

A survey of visitors to Leeds city centre conducted in August 2018 found that 52% of respondents had disposed of recyclable food and drinks packaging including plastic bottles, cans, coffee cups and food packaging whilst out and about and the majority of this recyclable waste was thrown into general waste bins.

The #LeedsByExample campaign builds on the success of Hubbub’s #SquareMileChallenge which has recycled over 6 million coffee cups in the heart of London and has helped transform the way companies are promoting reusable coffee cups and investing in UK recycling. #LeedsByExample has five key elements:

1) Collaboration

Boosting recycling on the go requires new partnerships and this is at the heart of #LeedsByExample. Central to the success of the campaign is Leeds City Council, who provided the permissions and infrastructure support required. The recycling industry has also been essential to the campaign development. Hubbub has worked closely with this sector to gain an understanding of exactly what materials they need and to ensure that everything is recycled as locally as possible rather than exported.

24 companies have each contributed financially, ensuring the investment burden is equally shared. This level of engagement has provided a broad range of expertise to inform the development of the interventions and has greatly increased the promotional reach within Leeds.  

The supporting companies are: Alupro, Asda, Association of Convenience Stores, Ball Beverage Packaging Europe, British Plastics Federation, Bunzl, Caffè Nero, Coca-Cola GB, Costa Coffee, Co-op, Crown Packaging, Danone, Ecosurety, Highland Spring, Innocent, Klöckner Pentaplast (kp), Lucozade Ribena Suntory, Marks and Spencer, McDonald’s, Morrisons, PepsiCo UK, Pret, Starbucks and Shell. 

2) Proven Behaviour Change techniques

The interventions in Leeds build on Hubbub’s experience and proven behaviour change techniques. They include:

  • The launch of a new We Recycle app that will allow people to scan soft drink containers and coffee cups to find their nearest recycling point.
  • New recycling infrastructure making it easy for people to act.
  • Five recycling reward machines based in universities, shops, shopping centres and petrol stations, giving people a reward for recycling plastic bottles and coffee cups.
  • New street carts enabling street cleaners to recycle the litter they collect.
  • A ‘Re-Cycler’ bike offering people rewards for recycling.
  • A playful ‘Bubble-blowing bin’ promoting the recycling message.

Some of the interventions are likely to work well and others will be less successful: Hubbub will openly report on impact so others can learn from this experiment.

3) Consistent communications

#LeedsByExample messaging will be consistent, with strong icons and colours informing people what can be recycled. Communications will be playful and eye-catching including digital adverts, streets signs and simple messages such as ‘empty plastic and cans, nowt else’ to help improve the quality of the recycling collected.

A wide range of communication techniques will be used including a large shipping container display, a small parklet, messaging at road crossings and social media designed to promote behaviour change.

4) Independent evaluation

The impact of the campaign will be measured independently, overseen by the global sustainability consultancy Anthesis, supported by WRAP and local consultant Dr Elaine Kerrell. Baseline data from the city has already been collected and an evaluation framework agreed for the overall campaign.

5) Open sharing

The ambition of #LeedsByExample is to create a step change in the amount of waste that is recycled whilst people are on the move. Hubbub and partners will openly share results with central government, local authorities and other companies making it easier for successful elements to be replicated and for mistakes to be avoided.

Curious to know how it's all going? The campaign is in its early days, but valuable lessons are already helping us to refine our approach. Click here to read our five early findings.