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 nearly 3 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 Hubbub and Leeds gave it a go. For a year #LeedsByExample(ah-haa) trialled everything from bubble blowing bins to recycle reward machines and bright, bold communications. 

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 almost 80 in Leeds City Centre, you’re never more than a few minutes away!Empty coffee cups can be recycled in anyCaffèNero, Costa, McDonald's, Pret or Starbucks or in one of 10 new bright orange bins.  
  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:

The difference made

Since October 2018, Leeds By Example has introduced 186 eye-catching new recycling points and collected 1.2 million coffee cups, 140,000 cans and 160,000 plastic bottles 

It’s collected good quality recycling, with all bottles, cans and cups recycled in the North of England, and the number of people recycling in Leeds City Centre has almost tripled from 17% to 49%.  

A strong legacy has been left for Leeds, with the Council taking on the recycling collections and continuing to work with local partners (wahey!). 

To build on what we’ve learnt, the model is now being rolled out in Swansea and Edinburgh and we will work with more locations in 2020 to build a robust set of recommendations for introducing recycling on-the-go.    

Read the Executive Summary or full Impact Report to find out what we’ve learnt so far.

#LeedsByExample was funded by Starbucks, Ecosurety, Asda, Bunzl, Caffè Nero, Coca-Cola GB, Costa Coffee, Danone, Highland Spring Group, Innocent Group, Lucozade Ribena Suntory, Marks & Spencer, McDonald’s, Nestlé, Pret a Manger and Shell.

Affiliate partners are: Cromwell Polythene and WRAP.Local partners are: Forge Recycling, HW Martin, Leeds City Council and Zero Waste Leeds.