Lambeth joins In The Loop with colourful solar-powered bins to boost recycling on-the-go

  • UK’s biggest collaborative approach to recycling on-the-go arrives in Lambeth
  • Eye-catching bins aim to educate residents and visitors on how to recycle while out and about

Bright, colourful and eye-catching bins are being installed in the areas of Waterloo, Brixton, Clapham, Streatham and West Norwood, as a new on-the-go recycling initiative is launched by environmental charity Hubbub and Lambeth Council. The ‘Lambeth #InTheLoop’  campaign will make it as easy as possible for people to recycle empty glass, plastic bottles, cans and therefore improve recycling rates. In addition, coffee cups will be collected separately in a small-scale trial in Brixton thanks to new dedicated cup recycling bins.

On-the-go waste continues to be a significant problem for authorities across the country. It is estimated that 9 in 10 of us recycle at home compared to 4 in 10 who recycle on-the-go1. In 2019 an estimated eight billion drinks containers failed to get recycled in the UK2. That means they were either landfilled, incinerated or littered. At the same time, less than half of local authorities currently have on-street recycling systems3.

Furthermore, according to the new Lumina Intelligence UK Food To Go Market Report 2022, the UK food to go market will fully recover to and exceed its pre-pandemic market value, with an estimated 32% increase in the food-to-go market this year4.

This new initiative in Lambeth is part of #InTheLoop, the UK’s biggest collaborative approach to boost recycling on-the-go, which was first trialled in Leeds in 2018, followed by similar trials in Swansea, Edinburgh, Dublin, Wimbledon and Telford. Across the previous pilot projects, over 2.1 million plastic and glass bottles and cans were collected and recycled.

A recent waste study conducted by Hubbub and Lambeth Council reveals that only 6 in 10 plastic bottles, glass or cans ended up in the borough’s recycling bins. With Lambeth #InTheLoop, 80 new look bins (40 pairs of recycling and rubbish bins) will be positioned strategically across Waterloo, Vauxhall, Brixton, Clapham, Streatham and West Norwood, busy areas with a wide range of residents, visitors and commuters, to encourage them to recycle on-the-go.

The new bins will collect empty glass, plastic bottles and cans, so these valuable materials can be made into something new instead of going to waste.

The bins are solar compacting and are fitted with smart sensors to detect how full the bin is, meaning they can capture more waste and need to be emptied less often. They also feature a bright design and clear messaging, to make it easier for people to know what to put in the recycling bin and reduce the frequency of the recycling being too contaminated with the wrong items to recycle.

Contamination is a key issue Lambeth #InTheLoop is aiming to address. A recent analysis of the current on-street bins showed that 74% of coffee cups are incorrectly ending up in the recycling bins. Coffee cups are made from cardboard but are lined with plastic. The difficulty in separating the two materials means cups can’t be recycled the usual way.

However, coffee cups can be recycled if they are collected separately. New dedicated cup recycling bins will therefore be trialed specifically in Brixton. In the borough’s other town centres, coffee cups should be disposed in the rubbish bins or given to new ‘mobile recycling points’. These are street sweeper barrows that have been rebranded by Hubbub and are operated by the council’s waste contractor, Serco, to make it even easier for people to recycle on-the-go. If there isn’t a recycling bin in the vicinity, anyone passing a street cleansing operative can give them their empty glass, plastic bottles, cans and coffee cups to be recycled.

To further keep contamination to a minimum, people are being urged to put items such as food waste and crisp packets in the general waste section of the bin and to think “if in doubt, leave it out” – and to always ensure packaging is empty before you recycle.

Lambeth Council will be working with Hubbub to measure the impact and effectiveness of the new bins. The results and learnings from Lambeth #InTheLoop will contribute to the development of a blueprint for other local authorities to benefit from.

Gavin Ellis, co-founder of Hubbub, said: “We’re really excited to bring #InTheLoop to Lambeth. As the trend of on-the go consumption is set to continue, we want to give residents, workers and visitors a better and easier opportunity to recycle while out and about. Being able to trial these new eye-catching bins in areas with high footfall such as Waterloo, Brixton, Vauxhall, Clapham, Streatham and West Norwood will greatly enable us to measure the effectiveness of the bins. We’re urging everyone to use the new bins and help us ensure that as much valuable packaging is recycled as possible.”

Cllr Rezina Chowdhury, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Lambeth and Clean Air, said: “These new smart bins give us all more opportunities to recycle our rubbish when we’re out and about in the borough. We all want to do our bit when it comes to being environmentally friendly, and this is another way to easily contribute. Using these new bins will also help keep our streets cleaner.

In Lambeth the number of local people that are recycling at home has gone up over the last year, with the borough becoming the best in inner London. Let’s all try and match that by using these new bins to recycle more when we’re out of the house.”

Lambeth #InTheLoop is funded by Lambeth Council with additional financial support from a coalition of funders who have supported #InTheLoop: Bunzl, Coca-Cola GB, Costa, Danone, Ecosurety, Highland Spring Group, Innocent, Nestle, Subway and Starbucks.

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