Bringing recycling and waste stations out into the open-plan layout of modern spaces can create an effective, behaviour-changing solution, says Method Recycling.

Recycling can significantly reduce the impact a facility has on the environment, is cost effective compared to other disposal methods, and customers are becoming more sensitive to sustainable business practices. For these reasons, it’s becoming increasingly important for organisations to implement effective waste and recycling systems in their facilities.

Open-plan and agile workspaces have eclipsed closed offices and cubicles, and it’s necessary that waste management and recycling design evolves with workplace design. Yet decisions about waste have long been neglected until the final hour, leading to systems that are ineffective, inconsistent with the building aesthetic or hidden away from sight.

“When people know they’re being

watched, even subconsciously, they tend to consider their decisions and are more likely to sort their waste accurately.”

Under desk or hidden bins make it convenient for users to place the majority of their waste into bins that go to general waste, resulting in recyclables being disposed of at a higher cost. Furthermore, if recycling bins are hidden it is less likely that people actively consider their recycling habits.

Most people are aware of the need to recycle and we need to ensure that facilities are making recycling easier than general waste options.

Driving around New Zealand selling generic bins, Method co-founders Steven and India Korner saw the need for better bin design in workplaces. They found a lot of apathy towards recycling, but also businesses who were striving to do the right thing, without the tools they needed to succeed. They spent years researching the way facilities waste solutions worked and how users interact with them, they even assisted cleaners on night shifts for a holistic view.

From this Method pioneered the concept of open-plan recycling, a theory centred around design, flexibility, and visibility. Bringing recycling and waste stations out into the open-plan layout of modern spaces is an effective, behaviour-changing solution.

Design Method believes in a recycling solution that is not an afterthought, but a part of the furniture. This requires extensive design and consideration, a purpose-built product that doesn’t detract from your facility design, but instead compliments it.


When you are considering open-plan recycling for your facility, bins should be visually effective in communicating their use - as well as matching your decor. Colour coding and the use of graphics can make bins identifiable at a glance. Make your bins consistent across all of your spaces and people will adapt through continued use and will no longer need to actively consider what stream items go into.

Centralised recycling stations mean considerably fewer bin liners than under desk bins, this also reduces the time cleaners need to service them. This can represent considerable savings for any facility.

Visibility and flexibility Visibility is one of the core principles that makes open-plan recycling effective. Recycling and waste stations should be easy to see, not hidden away. If bins are out in the open users are continuously reminded to consider their recycling behaviours within the space and enforce accountability.

When people know they’re being watched, even subconsciously, they tend to consider their decisions and are more likely to sort their waste accurately. Similarly, when people observe others correctly sorting their waste this can encourage them to do the same.

Visible recycling solutions send a message to stakeholders that you are serious about reducing the impact your organisation has on the environment.

Open-plan recycling should also be flexible. As an organisation grows and changes, the number of bins and where they are placed need to adapt to be successful. This includes placing bins in areas of waste production, like an organics bin in the kitchen and a paper bin by the photocopier.

What else should you be doing? Businesses who are considering a new recycling system to complete a waste audit before and after implementation, should ensure they have the correct streams and that users understand how to interact with them.

An audit will also help to assess; who is the best waste provider, the frequency of collection required, streams that are needed, and that there are placed bins for optimal use. All of these efforts will reduce the likelihood of contamination and mean waste providers receive correctly separated waste.

A great way to motivate and assess impact is to ask your waste provider if you can visit their facilities and see what happens with your waste. Often, contaminated waste ends up at the landfill undermining your efforts.

An organisation that is doing their best deserves to be recognised. This can be achieved by being transparent

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