Recycling reward schemes have been rolled out across Leeds city centre as part of a major six-month trial to improve rates of recycling on the go.

The #LeedsByExample initiative has the backing of 23 brands, retailers and industry bodies including the Association of Convenience Stores.

The campaign will pilot new recycling facilities for plastic, cans and paper cups on the streets, in local offices, shopping centres, universities and transport hubs for six months from October 2018, in conjunction with Leeds City Council.

Recycle reward machines offer money off at participating traders, while ‘Re-Cycler’ recycling collection bikes offer recycled pens, sweets, and fruit in exchange for empty plastic bottles and cans.

The results of the trial, which will be shared openly with the goal of national roll-out of the most successful elements, comes as the government prepares to consult on a retail Deposit Return Scheme. The Scottish government has just closed a consultation on a DRS.

The scheme was organised by environmental behaviour change charity Hubbub and recycling compliance scheme Ecosurety. It is being funded by the retail partners and Ecosurety, while Leeds City Council is supporting it through waste collections.

The inspiration behind the scheme was highlighted by a survey of visitors to Leeds city centre conducted in August 2018, which found that 52% of respondents had disposed of recyclable food and drinks packaging including plastic bottles, cans, coffee cups and food packaging whilst out and about, most of which was disposed of in general waste bins.

A unique element of the initiative will be the first UK trial of the We-Recycle app developed by OPRL, which will use barcodes and labelling on soft drinks packaging and coffee cups to provide clear, cross-brand help for people on what and how to recycle, with a map to find their nearest recycling points. The app is one of a range of approaches designed to engage the youthful population of Leeds – 57% of the population of the city centre is aged 16 to 24.

Hubbub co-founder and director, Gavin Ellis, said: “The huge range of eye-catching recycling bins and communications throughout Leeds city centre will make it really easy for residents, workers and visitors to spot their nearest recycling point.

“We’re interested to discover which of these will make the biggest difference and will share what we learn openly so that the most successful elements can be rolled out in Leeds and nationally. We’re also making sure that all of the recycling we collect will be processed in the UK as locally as possible.”

The initiative is backed by Alupro, Asda, Association of Convenience Stores, Ball Beverage Packaging Europe, British Plastics Federation, Bunzl, Caffe Nero, Coca-Cola GB, Costa Coffee, Co-op, Crown Packaging, Danone, Ecosurety, Highland Spring, Innocent, Klöckner Pentaplast (kp), Lucozade Ribena Suntory, Marks and Spencer, McDonald’s, Morrisons, PepsiCo UK, Pret A Manger, Starbucks and Shell.