With busy schedules we're eating and drinking more and more whilst on the move. Last year alone we spent a whopping £17.4 billion on food and drink to eat on the go in the UK. It stacks up to about 13 billion plastic bottles, 9 billion drinks and 2.5 billion coffee cups every year!

That's a whole lot of packaging, and less than half of local authorities have the street infrastructure to collect and recycle it. This is often because the quality of what's collected on the street is so poor that the costs don't stack up to collect it; either we put the wrong materials in the bin meaning the whole lot goes to waste, or it still has food or liquid in it.

A new approach is needed and Leeds is up for giving it a go! Between October - April 2019, the city will be trialling new ways to make recycling consistent and easy to do. The city will #LeedsByExample (ah-haa) with empty plastic, cans and coffee cups.

How to recycle on the go in Leeds

  1. Keep hold of your plastic, cans and coffee cups and make sure they're empty. Leftover food and liquid could make a whole batch go to waste.
  2. Find a recycling bin at a yellow pin. There are over 30 in Leeds City Centre, you’re never more than 5 minutes away! Empty coffee cups can be recycled in any Caffè Nero, Costa, McDonalds, Pret and Starbucks.
  3. Follow the signs and only recycle items they ask for. If in doubt, leave it out.  

For now, please leave out crisp packets, sandwich wraps, coffee cup lids, cardboard food containers and polystyrene trays - these can't be recycled.

Find your nearest recycling bin:

What's on in Leeds

A shipping container full of rubbish at Briggate, 9 - 19th October

Enough food and drink packaging is binned on the streets of Leeds city centre, to fill a shipping container every 3 days. Pop along to Briggate (just outside Debenhams), to see what this looks like and see what plastic can be turned into!

Get rewards for recycling in Beckett University and Kirkgate market

Recycle reward machines are common around parts of Europe and can help improve the quality of our recycling. Now they're coming to Leeds to give you a chance to make some money from your used empty plastic bottles, cans and coffee cups! We'll be starting at Beckett University and Kirkgate market, and will be testing different rewards to see what's needed to incentivise recycling. More locations will be announced here soon.

A h(app)y recycling tool

Download the new 'We Recycle app' to scan some food and drink packaging and find out 1) whether it can be recycled and 2) where your nearest bin in Leeds is. Litter-ally all your dreams have come true, haven't they.

Re-cycler cargo bikes and bubble bins at Briggate, 9 - 19th October

The Re-Cycler cargo bike will be popping up around Leeds to swap your empty plastic and cans for sweet treats! There will also be two Bubble Bins spurting bubbles in exchange for plastic bottles and cans.

Not in Leeds? Here's what you can do

  1. Consider switching to reusable cups and bottles. Get started with this guide on switching to reusable cups
  2. If you do have packaging - check what you can recycle where you live and work by entering your postcode here.
  3. Make sure your recycling is clean - wrong items, or leftover food and liquid could make a whole batch go to waste.
  4. Recycle your coffee cups at any Costa, McDonald’s and Starbucks store.

If you're a business in Leeds, head over here to find out more about getting involved.

#LeedsByExample is backed by 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, Pret, Starbucks and Shell.