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 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 Leeds is up for giving it a go! Since October 2018, #LeedsByExample (ah-haa) has been trialling 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 over 50 in Leeds City Centre, you’re never more than 5 minutes away! Empty coffee cups can be recycled in any Caffè Nero, Costa, McDonald's, Pret and 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.

see what's on in leeds 

Find your nearest recycling bin:

The difference made

In six-months, Leeds By Example has introduced 124 eye-catching new recycling points and collected 600,000 coffee cups, 65,000 cans and 55,000 plastic bottles!  

To build on what we’ve learnt, the model will be rolled out in Swansea and Edinburgh later this year and will also continue for a further 6-months in Leeds City Centre (wahey!).

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

join the leeds by example collaboration

#LeedsByExample is 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.