New recycling collection system for Hong Kong

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In mid-2018 we were fortunate to win a public tender issued by the Hong Kong – Environmental Protection Department (EPD). This tender was aimed to re-design the recycling collection system for the whole territory of Hong Kong. 

Using a design thinking process we started with mapping and researching the stakeholder needs in this system and mapping for the waste  journey in 8 different city settings ranging from Public parks, Mong Kok, Tai Po, Central CBD. We hoped this would give us a understanding of the different use cases we encountered and map the the system and its pain points. 

  • Phase 1 – Discover and Map
  • Phase 2 – Define and Prioritise
  • Phase 3 – Develop and Ideate
  • Phase 4 – Prototype and test Deliver

Phase 1.
Interview and field research in 8 different city settings. 

Phase 2. Measurements and Project Definition

Phase 3.
Ideation and Co-creation

It was important to involve a large multidisciplinary team in the ideation process. We tried to involve as many stakeholders as possible. People from academia, village councils members, waste handlers, government officers, and contractors. 

The process that worked best was to let the stakeholders test, try and comment on our prototypes. Here we could easily change and modify solutions to find an ultimate solutions meeting everyones requirements. In every round of prototypes we presented a refines solutions and got closer to a design we could start to test in the system. 

International labour laws

Waste handlers are an especially vulnerable and often uninsured group in our society. It was important to bring the handlers into the design process and empathise with their needs in collecting and transporting the waste away. The design should minimise repetitive lifting over pelvis height.

Phase 4. Prototype and test deliver

Build, test and learn process

The requirements for the designs was very complex because of the many different use cases scenarios and general requirements.  The collection bins should be safe to use without risk for pinching fingers and for repetitive lifting. There were a large variety of collection scenariors. Sometimes the bins was far away from any road and needed to be rolled long distances, other times road side and could be trucked away using automatic lifting arm mounted on the truck. 

The collections should be possible by a single worker. The container should be rain proof and pig proof and typhoon proof. meet our labour laws… and so on.  

Prototyping – build, test, learn

Prototyping was key to us inorder to find the best and most appropriate solutions. We started with simple cardboard mockups to test size, volumes, proportions and basic functionality and human factors. We ended with functional full size prototypes for pilot testing. After each prototypes round we refined the design to include the learnings from tests and  stakeholders feedback.

Pilot Testing

Public engagement

Colours, graphics and Icons

Since Hong Kong still use the traditional Chinese characters there are only a limited amount of font sets available to us. Even in these sets we needed to modify more modern words with 

Big thanks goes out to Ken Li for supporting us in icons and font selection. 


Since Hong Kong still use the traditional Chinese characters there are only a limited amount of font sets available to us. Even here we needed to compared with 

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