In 2017 Changeworks was awarded funding from Zero Waste Scotland and the European Regional Development Fund to create Zero Waste Leith, a community-led project inspiring people to reduce waste. 71% of Leith residents wanted to learn more about how to make the most of food. At least 1000kg of food is thrown out each week in Leith and only 54% is recycled. Food waste is a major contributor to global heating due to the gas it releases.

Getting the message right

We teamed up with marketing agency Gerry Farrell Ink to create the Leith’s Good with Food campaign to increase the number of Leithers actively preventing food waste at home and participating in food waste recycling. Our series of eye-catching posters featuring local people sharing their tips were put up in stairwells, community spaces and bus shelters around Leith. The campaign also featured a video with cracking tips and social media messaging. Changeworks ran a series of pop-up stalls around Leith giving out free kits containing tools to reduce and recycle food waste, which were also trialled in two of Leith’s Council libraries.

Record of success

Three months later, 40% of those who saw our poster campaign were producing less food waste and participating more in food waste recycling. The kits helped 94% of people to recycle food waste, with 31% starting to recycle it for the first time ever, and 47% creating less.

There was also an 18% reduction in food waste on the Leith street where we targeted this messaging, which contrasted other streets where food waste recycling substantially increased.

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council said:

“This is a fantastic campaign which has clearly had a real impact in the local area. Reducing food waste – and recycling any leftovers – is so simple to do but can make a real difference to our carbon footprint. If everyone follows this advice and makes the most out of their food, while recycling whatever they don’t use, they’ll be helping us meet our goal of becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030.”

Leithers welcomed the informative and locally orientated campaign, saying:

“I thought your campaign was great. It was attractive and informative. I liked the way it was presented (outside JP's pub in Elm Row) so that you couldn't miss it. Your 'stall holders' were great - very enthusiastic and well informed.”


“I think it was really good. I had never done food waste recycling before. The fact about tea bags was really good as I drink a lot!”

The future

While the Zero Waste Leith project comes to an end in July 2020, some aspects of the campaign remain active. You can find out where to reuse, repair or recycle your stuff using our Edinburgh Reuse Map, network with other Leith businesses looking to improve their environmental impact with our Business Charter, and access expert advice on doing what we can locally to support our fragile environment at Zero Waste Leith Facebook page.

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