2. Aesthetic appeal

2. Aesthetic appeal

Do not discount the importance of appeal. Bins that are poorly maintained or look dirty or broken are less likely to be used by the public, whereas bins that are appealing and offer good, attractive signage are more likely to be used.

Make sure the bins are colour coded based on the NA universal colour codes – blue for recyclables, green for organics and black for garbage. The colour of the bin is the first thing that the user views from a distance and signals that they can recycle or compost their materials.

Shared Experience

Emily Carr University of Design, B.C., Research and Design Project, 2015

emily-carr-universityA student at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design completed her Master of Design by undertaking a research project to enhance the public space recycling experience in Metro Vancouver. Working with City staff, the researcher studied interaction of the public with recycling stations and the back end collection crew needs and experience.

The research involved conducting workshops, on-site monitoring, observations and surveys. The information collected was used during a design workshop conducted with City staff from different departments.

The project resulted in the design of aesthetically appealing and functional recycling stations. The features included:

  • Graphics that could be seen from different distances and oriented so that the person and see them as they are walking towards the bins,
  • Colour coded bins (blue for recyclable containers, yellow for recyclable paper, green for organics, and black for garbage) provided the most effective visual cues from a distance. Although a green bin for organics was tested, further research showed that four bins provided too much choice for users so the organics bin was reserved for locations where food was being purchased.
  • The bins were ergonomically designed to facilitate effective and efficient removal of material by collection crews.

During testing, the recycling stations had a positive impact on cross contamination at 17% on average compared with up to 50% for the previous recycling stations, MMBC (Multi-Material British Columbia), which is sponsoring the research, concluded that “the use of colour keys and icons, as well as the visibility of the recycling stations, were factors in the quantity and quality of PPP (packaging and printed paper) collected.”

To read the report, click here.