Bringing on-street recycling to Swansea

With busy schedules we're eating and drinking more and more whilst on the go. With this comes a lot of packaging - we get through a whopping 13 billion plastic bottles, 9 billion drinks cans and nearly 3 billion coffee cups every year in the UK! But lots of this packaging isn’t currently recycled. 

Following the success of our first recycling on-the-go campaign, #LeedsByExample, we worked in partnership with Swansea City Council to roll out the most successful elements to Swansea in a 6-month trial campaign that started in September 2019.

Making recycling easy

Step 1) Recycle empty plastic bottles and cans in yellow recycling bins

We told the public to keep hold of their empty plastic bottles and cans, and recycle them in the yellow recycling bins across the city centre. These are easily recyclable materials that can be used over and over again if we dispose of them responsibly.

Step 2) Recycle empty coffee cups in orange bins and in partner stores

Coffee cups have a unique blend of paper and a plastic coating, meaning they need their own separate collection to be recycled properly. We introduced new orange coffee cup recycling bins on the streets and stores such as Starbucks, Caffè  Nero, Costa, McDonald’s and Pret a Manger also offered in-store recycling.

Step 3) If in doubt, keep it out

Recycling leaves us all with a warm, glowing feeling inside (probably!). But remember to recycle only what's being asked for! Follow the signs on the recycling bins and if in doubt, leave it out.  If the wrong thing ends up in recycling it creates contamination meaning the whole lot can go to waste. Keep out things like crisp packets, sandwich wraps, coffee cup lids, cardboard food containers and polystyrene trays - these can't be recycled (yet!).

Read FAQs here

Making waves

Local eco-artist Wren Miller created the 'Swansea Wave', an eye-catching installation that hows how many easily recyclable on-the-go materials go to waste every 20 seconds in the UK.


The wave toured Swansea during the campaign, visiting 6 major sites from the Quadrant Shopping Centre to Swansea University. Now, The Wave will form part of Swansea University's citizen science project, still reminding people of the scale of the waste issue and why they should recycle where possible.

The difference made

After the 6 month trial, the results are in!

  • 119 new recycling points added to the streets of Swansea including coffee cup bins for the first time in Wales
  • More than 100 businesses supported the campaign and spread the word in-store and online
  • A total of 147,000 plastic bottles, glass bottles, cans and coffee cups put back #InTheLoop (according to estimates from Keep Wales Tidy) - enough to build 96 Waves!
  • From launch to campaign end we saw an 89% increase in target material collection rate

Key Stats Infographic

Full Impact Report

Swansea City Council have agreed to take over the long term running of the campaign including collection, recycling and communications. The Environment Centre have also successfully applied for grant funding to increase the number of recycling points and use the #InTheLoop to talk about reuse and repair, based on feedback received during the campaign.

Swansea #InTheLoop was a partnership between Hubbub and Swansea City Council, supported on-the-ground by The Environment Centre and Keep Wales Tidy.

Swansea #InTheLoop was funded by a broad range of organisations: Starbucks, Ecosurety, Asda, Bunzl, Caffé Nero, Coca-Cola GB, Costa Coffee, Danone, Highland Spring Group, Innocent Drinks, Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I, Marks & Spencer, McDonald's, Nestlé, Pret a Manger and Shell.