Shifting regulations are changing bin design and procurement for public spaces.
“Litter bins, garbage bins, trash bins, and waste containers” are obsolete terms. The title “Waste Management” will be enhanced by “Waste Diversion” and “Waste Elimination” strategies.
Legislation regarding waste and recycling is quickly changing across Canada and the United States.
Manufacturers of consumer goods will be directed to fabrication of products which a) prioritize the use of recycled materials themselves, b) stress durability rather than disposability, and c) have considered that the product and packaging at disposal will be recyclable or reusable.
Minimum requirements for waste collection today are the basic separation of ‘WASTE’ and ‘RECYCLABLE’ materials. This may require two individual units clearly identified by graphics or colour codes, or a single container with two disposal openings and two liner bins. In both cases the graphics and colours are key elements.
In large urban areas the robotic sorting of collected waste is becoming widespread. Recyclable waste is sorted into the various elements, glass-plastic-metal and paper (the basic ‘blue box’ elements) by machine. Some municipalities will require only a two-stream collection program to isolate these components from non-recyclable waste.
Institutions and large organizations will often require the additional separation of paper, from the blue box mix and increasingly, a bin for organics. With ‘non-recyclable’ waste this would require a four-stream separation system. Three stream combinations for separation of waste-paper-glass/plastic/metal will also be the most common requirement.
As environmental audits become common practice, an important factor will become efficiency of disposal – i.e., the identification for what trash goes in which bin. ‘Contamination’ is to be avoided at all costs. Clear directions must be given to the user at the point of disposal. This can usually be achieved with lid graphics.
THE EVOLUTION OF GRAPHICS AND PICTOGRAMS
Arconas’ ‘X’ series was originally developed for GTAA (Toronto Pearson International Airport) specifically to separate recyclable waste inside the terminals. The modular components were designed to provide combinations of units for the disposal of one, two, three, or four waste elements with no customizing necessary in production. Lid openings, shapes and graphics were designed to identify the various waste products and the units were either all metallic silver, or metallic silver and dark blue.
As per norms of the time, graphics were originally small, subtle, bilingual and discreet rather than bold and colourful. However, waste identification has become more important than ever for reasons previously outlined.
The new Arconas graphic display panels can be fitted to any ‘X’ Series receptacle to create a specific management program for recycling control. The display area was intended to look like a tablet, and to be a strong visual element. The graphics, printed on laminated foamcore, identify clearly what items go in which bin. The height, angle and spacing of the graphic panels were prototyped and tested to provide the best possible readability. They also comply with accessibility regulations and standards.
These can be quickly and easily removed and replaced if the pictogram needs modification. Some facilities also include images of particular coffee cups, or common items purchased at their cafeteria, so that the graphics are unique to the waste habits of the building and its workers. For one project, Tim Horton’s was such a staple to student’s everyday life that the college included a brown bin dedicated to the disposal of coffee cups, which are often sorted incorrectly.
CUSTOMIZATION & BRANDING
It is apparent that the future of this industry is based largely on the ability to supply the requirements for efficient recycling of all commercial waste materials. While there will always be a market for supplying one or two freestanding waste/recycling units, major installations will always require some customization to meet the specific needs of their institution and corporate waste management goals. It is important for most of these institutions that the organization is identified with the recycling process, which can be achieved easily with graphics that incorporate corporate logos and brand identity.
Procurement of waste and recycling solutions has grown as the importance of sustainability has increased, and recycling methods have advanced. It is important to choose waste management strategies that will consider the needs of a facility, and meet the regulations of its organization and/or geographical location.