Bristol’s Binning – giant wave sculpture kickstarts campaign to reduce litter on the streets of Bristol

  • Eye-catching bins and an art installation aim to encourage residents and visitors to dispose of their litter responsibly
  • Four-metre-high wave made of litter floats on Bristol Harbour to shine a light on issue of littering

Further action is being taken to help reduce the amount of litter on Bristol’s streets. From today [Wednesday 2 November] new eye-catching bins, cigarette butt voting bins, and targeted messaging will encourage people not to leave litter behind when enjoying the city and its harbour.

In partnership with Bristol Waste and Bristol City Council, environmental charity Hubbub is launching the ‘Bristol’s Binning’ campaign to help reduce the amount of litter on Bristol’s streets and stop it travelling into the harbour and out to sea, contributing to the ocean plastic crisis.

Two million pieces of litter are dropped every day in the UK, wreaking havoc on the natural environment and habitats. Bristol Waste collect around 3,700 tonnes of litter every year: that’s that same weight as two SS Great Britains or 300 double decker buses. Picking up litter costs the city around £6million a year.

Over 50 colourful and eye-catching bins are being installed across the city centre in key locations near take aways, night life venues and parks, as well stadiums, transport hubs, in and around markets and the harbour. The new design bins will feature fun takes on song lyrics, gaming motifs and playful puns, and there will be glow in the dark bins and bins that both cheer people on and play jungle music when they are opened. New recycling bins for plastic bottles, cans and glass will also be installed for the first time alongside Bristol’s existing general waste bins and coffee cup recycling bins to make it as easy as possible for people to recycle when out and about. Finally, colourful voting bins for general litter and ‘ballot bins’ for cigarette butts will be popping up to get people to vote with their litter on hot topics such as ‘Surf vs Skate’, ‘Drum & Bass vs Techno’ or ‘Casa Amor vs Main Villa’.

Bristolians will also be able to literally win using the LitterLotto app – a free to enter Prize Draw, with regular spot prizes and huge jackpots just for binning their litter.

With the overarching message that Bristol is binning – and therefore winning – the campaign aims to instil a sense of fun and pride to keep streets litter-free and clean.

To galvanise the public to take action, an art installation of a giant wave made of litter has been created by eco-artist Wren Miller, with support from Bristol Council, Bristol Waste and Hargreaves Lansdown.

The spectacular wave is made with 90kg of waste, equivalent to the volume of litter dropped on Baldwin Street in just one busy Friday, highlighting the scale of littering in Bristol’s City Centre.

The four-metre-tall and six-metre-wide wave sculpture will be ‘crashing’ in Bristol Harbour, a beautiful area spanning 83 acres that attracts many visitors each year but also considerable amounts of litter, which often gets blow into the water and ends up in rivers and oceans.

Officially launching the campaign, Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees unveiled The Wave sculpture on Wednesday morning at the harbour where it will be on display for three months, before moving on land around prime city centre locations.

Mayor Rees said: “We all have a part to play in making sure that Bristol is clean and green and can be enjoyed by everyone.

“The Wave sculpture shows the extent of the problem in Bristol, and why we need to take action. Not only does litter look unsightly it can be harmful to both people and animals – especially if it ends up becoming ocean pollution.

“We are delighted to be installing new recycling bins around the city centre, which will also help us to improve our recycling rates across the city and achieve our ambitious goals.

“We hope this campaign will capture the attention of the people of Bristol and encourage them to think twice about dropping litter after a night out. Working together we can make Bristol a city we can all be proud of.

Students from the University of Bristol will carry out a litter pick and there will be pop-up two-minute litter picks around the city in the months to come.  Council enforcement officers will be looking out to reward residents doing their bit to reduce litter with on-the-spot prizes such as vouchers.

The campaign has been developed based on insights from Hubbub research 1, the charity’s Neat Streets campaign in Bournemouth 2, and in collaboration with partners and residents to ensure it reaches the right people in the environments they are most likely to litter.

Data from Bristol Waste Company has helped identify litter hotspots across the city, enabling the campaign partners to ensure that bins are strategically located to have the biggest effect.

Furthermore, Hubbub involved students from University of Bristol and Bristol College in the design of the campaign messages, as 2020 polling by the charity found that over a third of 16-25 year-olds admitted to littering in the past month and that men were twice as likely to litter as women. 

Natasha Gammell, creative partner at Hubbub said: “Bristol is known for leading the way on environmental issues, but litter continues to be a problem, particularly at night as a result of people enjoying the nightlife. We hope these hilarious bins that play catchy tunes and glow in the dark, will turn some heads and encourage people to use them and not leave their litter lying around the city. With this campaign, we can show that Bristol is winning by binning!”

Jason Eldridge, interim Managing Director, Bristol Waste said: “In central Bristol the litter can pile up. From Baldwin Street alone our crews collect around 500kg of litter a week; that’s roughly 11,300 bags of litter from just this one road every year. The toughest clean ups can be after a Friday or Saturday night, when bottles, cans and cigarette butts are the biggest problem, and it can take two hours to clean this one street.

“Thanks to the graft and dedication of the street cleaning team, Bristol is clean and safe again by the time most of us wake up. But we all have a responsibility to look after our outdoor spaces, keeping them safe for everyone to enjoy. That’s why we’re supporting this project, and why everyone wins when Bristol bins.