Giant rainbow made from recycled cans pops up near St Paul’s


A giant rainbow installation has appeared overnight in front of St Paul’s Cathedral.

The rainbow has been installed by not-for-profit Every Can Counts in partnership with the City of London Corporation to highlight the importance of recycling empty drink cans ahead of Recycle Week (20th – 26th September).

The eye-catching installation in Carter Lane Gardens is made from more than 2,500 recycled drink cans and measures four metres high and seven metres wide. It took four people more than five hours to construct and will remain in place until Thursday 23rd September to spread the recycling message.

In the first three months of this year, the total volume of domestic recycling collected in the City of London was up by nearly 10 tonnes on 2020*, as lockdown restrictions made it easier for people to recycle at home.

However, Every Can Counts’ own research** suggests that seven in 10 of those in London say they have noticed more litter over the past year, and most of these people believe this is as a direct result of the pandemic.

67% of those surveyed say they take packaging home to recycle if there aren’t recycling facilities in public places, with nearly eight in 10 (78%) claiming that they would recycle more while out and about if there were a greater number of recycling bins.

According to Every Can Counts, more than 30 million drink cans are bought and used each week across London. Aluminium is infinitely recyclable and recycling just one can saves enough energy to power a TV for three hours***. If all of these cans were recycled, it would give greenhouse gas savings equivalent to taking more than 30,000 cars off the capital’s roads for a week.

Chris Latham-Warde, Programme Manager for Every Can Counts, said: “You couldn’t really pick a more iconic London location than right in front of St Paul’s Cathedral. And the workmanship that’s gone into the installation really is quite impressive.

“The rainbow is our way of reminding people about the importance of recycling cans at a time when the environment is on the agenda, ahead of Recycle Week and in the lead-up to the UN Climate Change Conference.

“Recycling an empty drink can is a small thing that each of us can do for the benefit of the environment, and these small actions all add up. Not only are drink cans endlessly recyclable, but making a can from recycled metal uses 95% less energy and produces 95% less greenhouse gas emissions. We’re here to raise awareness of these significant benefits and inspire more people to make a difference by doing the right thing with their empty cans.

“In 2020, a record four out of five drink cans sold in the UK were recycled****, as we spent much of the year locked down at home with easy access to recycling bins. We now want to keep this up as things return to normality, and our goal at Every Can Counts is to continue making progress towards a 100% recycling rate for drink cans.”

Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Environmental Services Health Committee, Keith Bottomley, said:

“It’s fantastic to be part of such an innovative campaign as part of Recycle Week this year.

“For us, promoting recycling and protecting the environment are top priorities.

“Those who work, visit and live in the Square Mile are right to expect a very high standard of environmental sustainability.

“As world-leading financial centre, they deserve the best.”

Nickie Aiken, MP for Cities of London and Westminster, said: It’s wonderful to see this eye-catching rainbow in the heart of my constituency. It will be a timely reminder to all our visitors returning to the city centre to recycle more and keep our streets tidy.

“I’m looking forward to seeing people share their photos of this impressive rainbow sculpture, while remembering the message behind it. Recycling an empty drink can is one simple thing that each of us can do for the benefit of the environment and it will help us progress towards a truly circular economy.”

The rainbow makes for an ideal photo backdrop, and Every Can Counts is running a social media photo competition offering the chance to win a £250 shopping voucher. To enter, take a snap of the rainbow and upload it to social media using #EveryCanCounts and tagging @EveryCanCountsUK (Instagram/Facebook) or @EveryCanCounts (Twitter).