A simple, low-cost, new compactor for businesses. It’s shows attitude in a green era and encourages people to recycle packing materials instead of destroying it via a brand-new product image.
The compactor-sorter created for the company GREEN CREATIVE compacts, sorts and stores packaging materials from beverage vending machines. It is intended for installation in cafeterias, open-space offices, head offices, libraries, public buildings and waiting rooms.
The user simply deposits his or her packaging. The fully automated compactor detects the type of packaging, compacts it, sorts it and stores it in one of the three bins. If another type of object is introduced, the equipment rejects it automatically. When a bin is full, the pictogram of the bin in question blinks and the compactor refuses this type of packaging.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
CREATIVE GREEN had already developed a packaging sorting, compaction and storage machine. This initial large format piece of equipment (85 x 75 x 183 cm) was designed for public places. Spurred by the success of the first model, the company wanted to design another, smaller one for indoor spaces.
This was the first time CREATIVE GREEN collaborated with an external designer. The client was responsible for designing the mechanism and entrusted me with the design of all parts interacting directly with the users, asking me to focus on ergonomics, maintenance, appearance and the user interface.
The first challenge was to transform a machine into an object which integrates perfectly into professional or leisure environments.
The second challenge was the deadline. We had four and a half months to design and manufacture a functional prototype in order to present it at a trade show.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
The CREATIVE GREEN project team was made up exclusively of engineers. As a designer, I brought, on the one hand, a user-focused perspective and, on the other hand, a global vision of the project, a vision that aims at establishing a coherence between the concept, the technology, the look and the discourse with which the object is presented.
Since the team was not specialized in designing, I added several additional criteria to the initial brief:
Set this object apart from a garbage can. A garbage can is used to get rid of waste which will then be destroyed. In contrast, the compactor is designed to collect packaging in order to recover it through recycling. It is the first link of a chain which gives a second life to the gathered materials.
Create an attractive piece of equipment which promotes the act of separating waste and the company that has acquired it.
Handling and maintenance by the cleaning staff should be easy so that they are not neglected. A poorly cleaned machine would have a negative impact on the users’ experience and therefore on the recycling rate.
Finish the inside as well as the outside to obtain an aesthetically pleasing quality object, even when open. The idea was to make the client realize that design does not only aim at creating an attractive envelope, but that it has to do with creating a quality object.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
The client was not specialized in designing and the deadline was tight. The process was therefore adapted in order to simplify it. The relationship was also more didactic and the client was guided more than would usually be the case.
We followed a four-step process with an iteration:
The technical and marketing-focused questionnaires were filled out at the brief stage.
Phase 1: A “book of ideas” presenting six possibilities. One avenue was unanimously favored.
Phase 2: This avenue and a variation thereof were modeled.
Iteration: The project was remodeled in order to reduce the dimensions and refine some details.
Follow-up of prototype manufacturing.
The deadline was so tight – four and a half months – that it was inconceivable to build a model before the functional prototype. The project was thus carried out in 3D, which made it very difficult to evaluate dimensions. We therefore used objects and pieces of furniture of equivalent size, and then made full-scale drawings on a floor and a wall as a simple and quick way to get an idea of the space it would take up.
The dimensioning of the equipment required an iteration. When creating the parts, an acceptable compromise between sufficient storage volume and minimal bulkiness had to be found in order for the equipment to be economically viable as well as to ensure its perfect integration within the buildings in which it will be used. The first version having proved too cumbersome, we chose to reduce its diameter.
The prototype was intended to be presented to the public at a trade fair; it was therefore important that its form express the qualities and the benefits of the concept. We therefore chose a form which clearly shows that the equipment sorts and stores the drinks packaging in three bins, and we used three different colored bins.
In order to reduce tooling costs, we chose a vertically shaped body. The compactor is made up of three identical parts. The three pictograms are made using an interchangeable block in the mould. This vertical orientation also makes it possible to fully careen the interior – smooth and without corners, the equipment is easy to clean.
We finally attained coherence between the concept (the sorting of three types of drinks packaging), the manufacturing (three identical bins and a body made up of three parts) and a form which makes the object readable.
In France, only about 50 % of packaging materials are recycled. GREEN CREATIVE’s compactor-sorter can have a positive social, educational and environmental impact:
It heightens awareness for the fact that packaging materials should not be destroyed, but recycled.
It encourages users to sort their waste.
It puts the company which invested in the equipment in a good light.
By making collection easier, it increases the recycling rate of packaging materials.
During its development phase and when it was presented to the public, GREEN CREATIVE’s compactor-sorter met with enthusiasm. Several of its qualities were appreciated:
Its form was considered attractive and recognizable.
Its hygienic aspect.
Its ease of use and its intuitive interface.
The great number of visitors who had fun testing the compactor demonstrated that the equipment plays its role fully.