Skip to main content

Belfast #CircleCity campaign launches with new colourful bins to boost recycling on-the-go

Date: 27 Jul 2023

Category: Reducing waste


Belfast City Council has today joined environmental charity, Hubbub to launch Belfast #CircleCity, a new on-the-go recycling initiative that is being rolled out in Belfast city centre, made possible with funding from The Coca-Cola Foundation.

Bright colourful bins have been installed in Belfast city centre as well as a number of public parks. The three-month trial will make it as easy as possible for residents and visitors to recycle plastic bottles and cans and therefore improve recycling rates. The initiative comes as plans are advanced to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in Northern Ireland.

As part of the initiative, 25 new recycling bins are located in the vicinity of City Hall, Donegal Place, Corn Market and four public parks; the Botanic Gardens, Victoria Park, Waterworks Park and Falls Park which all attract a wide range of residents and visitors, including families, cyclists and walkers, to encourage them to recycle on-the-go.

To keep contamination to a minimum, people are being urged to put items like coffee cups, dog waste and crisp packets in the general waste section of the bin and to think “if in doubt, leave it out”.

Belfast #CircleCity follows on from similar successful pilot projects since 2018 including Dublin, Leeds and the London borough of Lambeth. Across the previous pilot projects, over 2.5 million plastic and glass bottles and cans were collected and recycled. In the recent campaign in Lambeth, the campaign saw a 70 per cent reduction in contamination (i.e. non-recyclable material in the recycling bins), whilst increasing the quantity of recycling by 140 per cent and the new campaign in Belfast hopes to boost recycling and also reduce contamination.

On-the-go waste continues to be a significant problem for authorities. It is estimated that 9 in 10 of us recycle at home compared to 4 in 10 who recycle on-the-go while the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) estimate that Northern Ireland consumers use 420m plastic bottles and 90m cans every year. That means millions are either landfilled, incinerated or littered.

Speaking today, Cllr Micky Murray, Chair of the People and Communities Committee, Belfast City Council, said: “I’m delighted to be launching the #CircleCity campaign in Belfast which will help us all to recycle while shopping or visiting the city centre. As a council, our aim is to increase our recycling rates across the city year on year. Each plastic bottle and can that finds its way into the new recycling bins will help contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable and circular Belfast. It’s great to have the support of Hubbub and The Coca–Cola Foundation to really help push forward this positive initiative and bring the campaign to life. I’m confident that the Belfast #CircleCity campaign will make it easier for people to recycle on-the-go.”  

Beau Zilesnick, Project Lead at Hubbub, said: “We’re really excited to roll out Belfast #CircleCity as part of our ongoing work to encourage recycling on-the-go. With eye-catching bins now in place in twelve locations across the UK and Ireland we are creating consistency and making it easier for people to recycle while out and about. We’re urging everyone to use the new recyclable bins to  help us keep as much valuable plastic and aluminium as possible in the loop.”

Welcoming the initiative Agnese Filippi, Country Manager, Coca-Cola Ireland said: “At Coca-Cola, we’re committed to realising our ambition of a World Without Waste, by collecting and recycling a bottle or can for each one we sell by 2030. That requires a focus on the entire lifecycle of our products – from how bottles and cans are designed and made, to how they’re collected and recycled and repurposed. Through the investment in the Belfast #CircleCity campaign by The Coca-Cola Foundation, we want to make it easier for the public to recycle more while they move around the city centre. Raising awareness of the importance of on-the-go recycling in Belfast is an important step towards creating a closed loop system that eliminates waste. This is just one of the actions we’re taking to help build a circular economy for plastic bottles and cans including ongoing support for the introduction of deposit return scheme in Northern Ireland.”

Belfast City Council will be working with Hubbub to measure the impact and effectiveness of the new bins. The results and learnings from Belfast #CircleCity will contribute to providing renewed insight to the Hubbub #InTheLoop toolkit, an in-depth guide on how to roll out successful recycling-on-the-go, to benefit other interested local authorities and organisations who can access the learnings and downloadable assets for free.

Read more about the Belfast Circle City initiative

Read aloud icon Read aloud