Signage wayfinding recycling

Making signage is just the first step.

If you’re the go-to expert on everything green in your space, chances are you’ve been tasked with creating recycling bin signage. Maybe you even volunteered, but whatever the case, you’re up for the job.

You’ve spent hours of your time gathering and presenting information. You contacted your hauler or facilities staff to learn the accepted materials. You scoured the internet for the perfect material images to pair with your list of “do’s” and “don’ts”. Perhaps you went the extra mile and did your own material photography.

Surely, everyone will see your awesome signage and know instantly how to recycle right.

Of course the reality is that it often takes more than a sign posted somewhere in the vicinity of the bin for it to work.

So where should signage go?

One easy maxim is that recycling signage should be in the users’ line of sight.

That rules out the real estate on the front of the bin. Bin colors and symbols can be seen from afar, but as the user gets closer, bin front signage is at the user’s knees and is most definitely not in the line of sight. And try to raise signage higher up on the bin front, it’s often covered by the plastic bag liner.

That leaves two remaining spots, vertically behind the bin, and around the bin opening.

Signage on the wall behind the bin is an easy location for posting paper or laminated sheets that present lots of information, but how eye-catching is it?

Some espouse the “eye-level” signage mantra, but of course to people of differing heights, eye-level means different levels.

To complicate matters, bins are often moved by housekeeping staff or pulled into an adjacent room, so wall-based signage can become untethered from the bin.

Also, bins are sometimes placed in freestanding locations away from a wall, and bin-mounted backboard signage is only visible from one side. What happens if the user approaches the bin from the side?

Ultimately, to the user with a drink cup in their hand scanning back and forth between two receptacle openings, vertical signage is still sometimes missed, no matter the posted height.

That leaves messaging around the opening to the bin. This area is logistically difficult to message - smaller space, irregularly shaped areas, etc. - but is the most conspicuous, always attached to the bin, and viewable from every direction.

Use signage in multiple locations.

As long as the signage and prompts are clear and uncluttered, it’s feasible and even advisable to use multiple messaging locations.

The convenience of wall-based signage isn’t going away, so for many applications, the answer is high-quality graphic vertical signage with eye-catching messaging prompts around the bin opening.

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