It’s been a busy four months since we launched Our Edinburgh #InTheLoop on-the-go recycling campaign. This pioneering project is now in its last month of trialling new ways to empower people in the city centre to recycle disposable drinks containers on the street. This ambitious campaign is a collaboration between Hubbub, the City of Edinburgh Council and Changeworks.

Recycling options while out and about are still significantly lacking, which means a shocking 5.5 billion plastic bottles, 2.7 billion drinks cans and 2.5 billion coffee cups are binned every year in the UK. With less than half of local authorities offering on the go recycling solutions, this campaign aims to get those valuable materials back in circulation – or “in the loop”!

Here’s how we’ve got on so far, successes, and what the final stage of the campaign looks like. If you've seen the campaign, make sure you fill in our evaluation survey for a chance to win a £50 voucher.

Can we do it? Don’t bottle it!

The first few months of the campaign saw Edinburgh Princes Street and the Waverley area brightened up with 26 new yellow bins. The eye-catching colour choice is no coincidence – we want people to notice. The bins have clear designs and artwork to nudge people to only dispose of cans and bottles.

George Street and Rose Street were added later, with a further 16 new bins. The campaign so far has been a huge success with recycling of plastic bottles in the area increasing by a massive 83 per cent. 

Coffee cups put a smile on our bins

According to Hubbub, 1,500 disposable coffee cups are binned every 20 seconds in the UK. For that reason, coffee cups were another key part of this campaign. Earlier this year we rolled out the happiest bins in all the land, ready and waiting to gleefully accept disposable coffee cups.

The appetite was clearly there, and the bright orange bins were a big hit on social media. The reaction from the public so far has been great, and we look forward to reporting similarly impressive improvements in recycling for this strand of the project.

Cut down contamination

However, providing bins alone is not enough. A huge challenge to overcome is contamination – stuff that doesn’t belong in the bins finding its way in there. Just a couple of misplaced items can mean a whole load of recycling has to be dumped, because it’s too difficult to remove the contamination at processing plants.

For that reason, preventing contamination was a key part of the campaign. It’s working too – contamination in the yellow bins has dropped by 41 per cent from the previous bins, and plastic bottles and cans now make up just five per cent of the general waste.

Engaging with the community

Just putting the bins in place won’t get the job done though – we need to engage with people. We’ve worked with local businesses, cafes and shops to promote the scheme, and taken the message to the streets to see what people think of the new bins. Waverley Mall and City of Edinburgh Council got even more involved, with specially designed coffee cup-shaped bins for their premises. Getting people switched on to the scheme has been hugely successful, with 100 per cent of respondents to our on-street survey saying they thought the bins were a good idea and easy to understand.

The campaign is rapidly reaching its conclusion, so it’s time for a final push to get the recycling rates as amazing as they can be! If you’re out and about in the city centre there’s bound to be a bin near you. We’ve got maps of the yellow and orange bins to help you find them.