FLORA: Recycling Bin

San Francisco is an innovation mecca that proudly holds the highest recycling rate in the nation. Taking a step further, the city has set out to eliminate all waste by 2020. Flora is a recycling bin designed with the purpose of helping San Francisco reach its goal.

STRUCTURAL DESIGN
Tailored to the city’s culture and needs, Flora is comprised of separate bins that can manage at least five types of waste—four of them recyclable. To complement the city’s aesthetic and deep appreciation for design, the bin features a sculptural design in the shape of a flower—a nod to the love and respect for mother nature fueling the city’s ambitious endeavor. Flora can be placed indoors or outdoors, and is designed to offer an intuitive interaction with the user.

Prototyping was a crucial aspect of the process, helping me quickly identify potential issues in terms of design and scale. Sharing my home-made prototypes with model makers helped me determine the need for each “petal” bin to have come to a point, rather than stay as a perfect circle. Though a seemingly simple adjustment, the point provides the bins with structural strength against impact.

INTUITIVE LEARNING
Due to the city’s fast-paced lifestyle and cultural diversity, a pragmatic approach was imperative when it came to labeling the bins. How to educate the user and avoid in-bin waste contamination without flooding the design with too much information?  The answer is, by keeping all communications as succinct as possible in order to best serve a multi-lingual population in constant rush.

WASTE CLASSIFICATION
While keeping the language as simple as possible, aiding waste classification through the use of shaped bin openings was the next step. In an effort to reduce mindless waste disposal, customized bin receptacles encourage the user to intuitively engage with Flora, helping to quickly determine where to discard each type of waste. Thus, the following system was established:

  • The opening for the compost and non-recyclable bins have larger openings to accommodate for a variety of items. It was important, however, to keep that opening to a limited size to reduce mindless dumping.
  • The dry paper bin features an opening that quickly suggests paper sheets and folded cartons. During the discovery phase, I learned how liquids can contaminate paper waste, rendering the items useless for recycling; to help minimize contamination, the word “dry” was deliberately added to the bin’s label. A liquids compartment can be found on the next bin, if needed.
  • The bin accommodating metal, plastic and glass uses a small, round opening that mimics most items made of these materials. There is a separate compartment for liquids, to be used as needed.
  • The center of the flower-like structure is used to collect used batteries. It features multiple small, round openings to avoid larger items to be discarded in that bin, and to help keep too much rain from getting in. This bin has a shallow depth to allow for a smaller collection volume, which prevents the bin from getting too heavy and making collection easier for the maintenance crew.

Art Direction + Product Design + Copy Writing: Maya Ostrander
3D Prototype: CMD Inc.

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