Bringing on-street recycling to Edinburgh city centre

In our busy lives, we're eating and drinking more whilst on-the-go. This trend produces a lot of waste, much of which isn’t being recycled. In fact, every year in the UK an estimated 11 billion plastic bottles, cans and coffee cups go to waste! And in Edinburgh, a RECOUP study showed 1/3 of materials thrown away from on-street bins could actually be recycled.

Since 2018, we've been trialling ways to boost on-the-go recycling, starting with the iconic #LeedsByExample campaign. Following the success of this trial, we went one further and made Swansea our first #InTheLoop city. In October 2019, we collaborated with The City of Edinburgh Council to introduce 74 colourful new bins to Edinburgh city centre and make recycling on-the-go easy and fun.

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

The difference made

After the 6 month trial, the results are in! 

  • 58 new recycling points and 16 new coffee cup bins introduced
  • 173 businesses joined the collaboration and helped promote the initiative
  • A total of 468,000 plastic bottles, cans and coffee cups collected and put back #InTheLoop (according to estimates by Changeworks). Laid lengthways, these would run the length of the Royal Mile 49 times!
  • From launch to campaign end we saw a 46% increase in the collection rate of materials in recycling bins

Key Stats Infographic

Full Impact Report

Planning for the long-term future of the Our Edinburgh #InTheLoop campaign has been disrupted by the Covid-19 crisis.

Our Edinburgh #InTheLoop is a collaboration between Hubbub and The City of Edinburgh Council, supported by Changeworks.

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