Designing a better recycling bin

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Method Ltd. Method Ltd. has developed a series of injection molded recycling bins which will fit into a contemporary office, rather than be hidden away.

Wellington, New Zealand — A New Zealand entrepreneur has designed a plastic recycling bin system with a modern, corporate look, and Kiwi businesses are embracing them.

Mechanical engineer Steven Korner, co-owner of Wellington-based Method Ltd., has developed the injection-molded polypropylene Method Recycling Station. The bins clip together and are color coordinated for different types of recyclable and waste products. Red is for landfill, yellow for plastic and other recyclables and green for compostable waste.

Korner said customers are displaying the bins in their offices, not hiding them away, as they would traditional waste and recyclable bins.

He said the bins are made from interlocking parts, manufactured in Method’s four custom injection molding machines. The design deviates from the traditional reinforced structure of plastic molded bins, but retains structural integrity.

“Many in the product design industry have questioned whether a plastic bin could be made without the standard ribbed reinforcements of traditional bin design. We have made the Method Recycling Station with the reinforcements sitting flat and flush, so as not to compromise the aesthetic quality of the system,” Korner said.

“The design thinking process has been a strong driver in developing the product. We spent three years to truly understand how recycling functions within a corporate office and the effective engagement of staff, cleaners, waste companies and building management. Aesthetic was also a strong driver to ensure [the bins] fit within the architectural tone of the office,” he said.

Korner was coy about how many units have sold since the product was launched in January 2015 but said: “We have had a good response from the New Zealand business community who are proud to show their sustainability efforts. We have been fortunate to have had businesses involved in the research and development [that] have subsequently purchased and become advocates.”

Units sell in Australia through Sydney-based office furniture retailer Hayworth Australia Pty. Ltd. and Korner plans to expand further into the Australian market.

He has no retail operations in other countries yet, but has sold direct to customers in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and San Francisco.

Korner worked with a design consulting group before he and his wife, India, bought Method, then a specialty bin business.