How can waste disposal accuracy be improved and also the experience of the public engaging in waste disposal correctly?


personal project

Research and design

Estimated completion

September, 2019


Research plan
Visual audit
Survey & insights
Design artifact


Why this project?

Humans are naturally wasteful creatures. Our waste says a lot about who we are as individuals and as a society. Ironically we would not know very much about our ancestors if it weren’t for their waste. Therefore, we should know a lot about ourselves considering, each person produces an average of one ton of waste per year. Katherine Hubbard used this idea in a project where she archived her weekly consumption by what was collected in her trashcan, see image below.

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It was only after World War II that a highly consumerist way of living became popular. Lifestyles increasingly became disposable and this posed a larger problem in the years to come. Landfills, incineration, composting, and recycling managed this wasteful lifestyle. Truthfully, however, most of the waste was littering our earth and destroying our environment. As we move into the 21st century it has become evident that society has realized the risks of such lifestyles and many programs have been created to combat our trash-filled environments, that are slowly becoming a reality. Scientific evidence of the negative consequences of our behaviour has speedily created more awareness throughout society. 



That waste disposal is often challenging, frustrating, and overall a undesirable experience. However, the results of it are detrimental to our planet and well-being of the future of a ecological world. People can perform better waste disposal with a solution that addressed their frustrations. From a design perspective, I assume we have a graphic and consistency problem.


It is becoming increasingly evident that a waste management program, and especially a waste treatment technique, which ignores social aspects is doomed to failure.



Survey Insights

Describe the level of difficulty finding waste disposal information on packaging or materials.


On a scale of 0-100 how frustrated do you get disposing of waste? 10, being the most frustrated and 0, being the least.




What came to mind at the end of the surveys was a doubt that a new graphic system would solve all the problems. Rather, I want to design a graphic system + some more of programming or product (of any kind!) that can prepare people to respond in a proactive and purposeful way. Essentially, there is not point in having a strong system when people are not trained appropriately on what those symbols mean.

Think of obtaining your drivers license. You need to learn and also prove you know all the signs and symbols for road traffic. This is not the case for disposal signage and therefore it becomes much more difficult to apply iconography that everyone is going to understand universally. 

My solution will address both the design of a system and also a strategy to apply the knowledge through the population.