Fun bins boost recycling

Lewisham Council in South London is over the moon after painting ordinary bins with a Friesian cow pattern saw recycling rates jump by 61% in just three months.

So successful was the Feed the Cows project in New Cross – predictably dubbed Moo Cross in the publicity – that the council is ordering more and has bought 70 smaller calf bins for the borough’s primary schools.

Design company Dest Communications, art installation experts Artmongers, and waste container suppliers Taylor were all involved in the landmark project.

Julian Gaylor, Taylor’s sales manager, said: “If you capture people’s imagination and make recycling attractive and fun, they are far more likely to participate.

“As well as increasing recycling, incidents of fly-posting and vandalism were eliminated.”

Feed the Cows was funded by Onyx Environmental Trust, which supports community and environmental, and was aimed at drawing attention to the under-used recycling site outside Goldsmiths college.

With Steve Bullock, the fittingly-named Lewisham mayor, prompting people to “to take care of the cows and fatten them up with plastic bottles, cans, card, paper and glass” the bins were an unparalleled success.

Patricio Forrester, of Artmongers, said: “The site was a dead space, and we wanted to bring it life with beauty and humour.

“Cows are seen as friendly animals and the principal of rumination and its production of milk are positive examples of recycling.”

The bins are now set to be farmed out far beyond the borough’s borders. Hackney Council has reportedly asked for 200 while Artmongers is said to have taken the idea to Argentina.

Dr David Gillett, Taylor’s marketing director, said: “The hardest link to address in recycling is the first ten yards – the effort required to physically walk to a recycling bring site and make a deposit.

“Cowbins have been shown to make a huge impact in this area but there’s a lot of work still to be done.”

David Gibbs

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