A giant rainbow arch created from over 2,500 recycled drink cans has appeared overnight in Piccadilly Gardens, Greater Manchester.

Measuring four metres high and seven metres wide, the rainbow has been installed by not-for-profit Every Can Counts ahead of World Environment Day (on Saturday 5th June) to highlight the benefits and importance of recycling empty drink cans. The installation forms part of a campaign in partnership with Greater Manchester Combined Authority, promoting drink can recycling across nine Greater Manchester boroughs.

The installation will remain in place until Sunday evening, and Every Can Counts’ recycling ambassadors will be roaming green spaces in Manchester over the weekend to spread the recycling message while collecting cans.

Every Can Counts’ research* suggests that people in Greater Manchester don’t recycle nearly 1.5 million drink cans after use each year. Aluminium is infinitely recyclable and recycling just one can saves enough energy to power a TV for three hours**. If these 1.5 million cans were recycled, it would give annual greenhouse gas savings equivalent to taking 3,900 cars off Manchester’s roads for a week.

It comes as littering in the region’s public places hits an all-time high, with more people than ever meeting and socialising outside due to Covid-19 restrictions. Almost six in 10 Greater Manchester residents 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.

More than half (53%) of those surveyed say they take packaging home to recycle if there aren’t recycling facilities in public places, with over seven in ten (72%) claiming that they would recycle more while out and about if there were a greater number of recycling bins.

The research also shows growing concern about the environment amongst those in Greater Manchester, with more than half (52%) saying that they are more aware of the environment and their impact on it now than this time last year.

Chris Latham-Warde, Programme Manager for Every Can Counts, said: “We’re really excited to bring this eye-catching sculpture to Manchester city centre to remind people about the importance of recycling.

“Recycling an empty drink can is just one small thing that each of us can do for the benefit of the environment. All of the cans collected in Manchester over the weekend could be recycled and refilled on shop shelves in just 60 days – and then infinitely recycled again and again.

“Last year, more than four out of five drink cans produced in the UK were recycled***, which was a record as nationwide lockdowns made it easier for people to recycle at home. With restrictions now easing, it’s important to do the right thing with empty cans wherever you are to help us achieve our ambition of recycling all of the drink cans sold in the UK.”

According to Greater Manchester Combined Authority figures, an average of just under 242 tonnes of aluminium was recycled each month in Greater Manchester in 2020 and 2021.

Cllr Neil Emmott, GMCA Lead for the Green City-Region, said: “We hope this striking installation will capture people’s imagination, and get them thinking not only about the scale of the waste challenge but also the potential of recycling and a circular economy.

“Making sustainable choices and recycling correctly are small acts but, when taken together across our city-region, can make such a big difference to our environmental impact. I would encourage people to come along and learn more about the ways they can recycle effectively, helping to play their part in cutting litter and its harmful effects on our environment.”

Councillor Tracey Rawlins, Manchester City Council’s executive member for Environment said: “This fantastic multi-coloured rainbow sculpture in the heart of Piccadilly Gardens during half term week will surely grab attention and be a timely reminder to all our visitors returning to the city centre to recycle more when they are out and about in the city.

“We want to encourage everyone to put their litter in the bins provided, of which there are 750 in the city centre, and if they cannot find a recycling bin, we would encourage them to take it home and recycle it there instead. We know that most people want us to have a clean city and we work hard to engage and educate residents on our litter campaigns. We have a thriving partnership with Keep Britain Tidy and the surge of litter picking groups in the city centre and beyond, in particular over the last year when people have really taken notice of their local environment, are an indication of how important our residents feel about having a clean and tidy city.

“We hope that all our visitors enjoy having their pictures taken with this fabulous piece of recycled art and remember the fantastic recycling message behind it all.”

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).

This initiative by Every Can Counts is part of a coordinated campaign taking place simultaneously in 19 locations across 15 European countries, including the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands. In each location, Every Can Counts’ recycling ambassadors will celebrate World Environment Day by engaging members of the public with the environmental benefits associated with recycling drink cans.

Every Can Counts is a unique partnership formed between drink can manufacturers, drink can fillers and the wider recycling industry, all with the goal of reaching a 100% recycling rate for drink cans. To find out more information about Every Can Counts, visit


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