A plea is being issued for residents to help reduce the mountain of unnecessary paper and cardboard waste produced in the city each year.
This week Leeds City Council gave large sculpted letters to schools and businesses, which filled them with recyclable paper and card items to highlight the city-wide issue.
Nine schools and businesses received a sculpture, which was collected at the end of the week to create a temporary art installation on Albion Street spelling out “Recycle Me” (Friday 29 September).
The average Leeds household throws away 82kg of perfectly recyclable paper and card yearly. That is the equivalent of an average British male or almost 13 stone.
More shockingly paper and cardboard thrown into black bins costs the council £2.8m a year for disposal. If this was placed in green bins savings could be passed on to residents through public services.
In particular ready meal cardboard sleeves, packaging from online purchases and flyers are items which end up in black waste bins, but are ideal for recycling.
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for environment and sustainability, said:
“We really need everyone’s help to make sure all the paper and card possible is being recycled in our city. The financial impact would be significant at a time when the council is having to think carefully about its finances.
“Every time paper and cardboard is recycled it saves energy reducing harmful emissions as well as raw materials, which isn’t just good news for Leeds but the whole planet. We’re asking people to look more closely at what is being thrown away. Even if it’s just taking cardboard out of your bathroom bin – it all helps.”
Welcome to Yorkshire is one business supporting the campaign and filled a letter with household waste produced by its staff.
Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said:
“What a great visual and engaging way to raise the issue of paper recycling across Leeds and further afield. Welcome to Yorkshire is very pleased to support this and hope it will encourage people to think more carefully about what items can be collected and reused to help prevent any negative impact on our natural environment.”
Kirkstall Primary School was also chosen to take part in the initiative, fill a letter, get the lowdown on what can be recycled and understand environmental impact.
Head Teacher of Kirkstall Valley Primary School Kully Richardson said:
“We want our children and families to recognise the importance of recycling by teaching children to take care of the environment they will inherit. We have a group of children called the Green Team – they make sure we’re aware of key issues and help us take part in projects like Clean Air Day and this Recycle Me event. We’ve held assemblies on recycling and we’re also planning a visit later in the year so the children can see first-hand what happens to their household recycling.”
Only a small percentage of people say they are confused about paper and cardboard recycling, yet a staggering 15 percent of black bin waste is made up of perfectly recyclable paper and cardboard.
Soiled pizza boxes, envelopes with windows, junk mail, bus and train tickets, cereal and handkerchief boxes, loo rolls and cardboard packaging from online purchases can all go into green recycling bins.
Examples of things that cannot are – glittery greetings cards, glittery wrapping paper, Tetra Paks, laminated or shredded paper and Jiffy bags.