Well-designed environments create better behaviors. A combination of a beautifully designed space coupled with easily accessible, properly labeled, and centrally located recycling bins equals a win for sustainability.

When integrating recycling bins into a building there’s some things to consider:

  • Proper Labeling – bins should have proper labeling to show people where recycling is supposed to go. The shape of the bin opening also has a positive effect on how much people recycle
  • Easy Access – Both employees and customers should have no difficulty accessing recycling and waste containers. Maintenance staff should be able to easily get rid of the contents in the bin as well.
  • Location, Location, Location – bins should be put in areas with high traffic areas so people actually see and use them.

While following those guidelines will ensure proper collection, the actual ascetics of a building and recycling hub can play a part in the rates in which individuals in a building recycle.

A recent study at the University of British Columbia set out to see if the look of a building actually had an effect on the amount students recycled. The recycling habits of cafeteria patrons in both buildings were filmed to capture their recycling habits and see if there was a difference between the two.

The recently built Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) had a recycling rate of 86% while the Student Union Building (SUB) – a relic from the 1960s – had a rate of 58%.

Busch Systems Aristata Series Recycling and Waste Containers

The recycling stations were exactly the same for both buildings – proper signage, easy access, et al. So what created this huge divide in recycling rates between the two buildings? Turns out it has to do with Design.

The cafeteria in the SUB is dark and drab compared to the CIRS building – that latter being touted as a “living laboratory for sustainability research” with huge windows and wooden structures.

So the design of a space affects recycling – what about the design and look of a collection container? Architects don’t have to sacrifice their vision when incorporating a sustainability program into a building’s design. 

Adding a series of bold, stunning looking recycling bins to a beautifully designed space will not only maintain the integrity of space but also encourage recycling!