The iconic "möbius strip" recycling symbol that we know so well was designed by a 23-year-old in 1970; it was his submission into a design competition sponsored by the Container Corporation of America. Symbolic history may have just been made once more with the winners of the 4th Bin design contest. Valiant Technology sponsored the competition to design a logo for e-waste, as well as a container specially engineered to receive it, initially for New York City, then for the world.
E-waste, or electronic waste, is an ever faster-growing category of trash consisting of computers, cell phones, game consoles, printers, etc. We've seen how e-waste creates toxic nightmares overseas, and how better recycling could recover a lot of cash. But many e-waste recycling programs are still disjointed or ad-hoc, and the 4th Bin contest is trying to make it a more recognizable part of our daily habits.
Taking the cake for the e-waste recycle bin is an Amsterdam firm called Springtime. In their words:
The 4th bin is intended to stand in the common recycling area for apartment and office buildings. The facility manager regularly moves the recycling containers to the curbside and just does the same with the 4th bin when it is full. A transmitter and a sensor in the 4th bin alerts the recycling company when it is moved from the original spot. So the recycling company can customize the pickup routes and work more efficiently.
Within the telescoping bin is a tough fabric bag that can be lifted by a crane (e-waste can't just be tossed around lest fragile components get smash, possibly releasing gasses and such). The RFID (radio frequency identification) scheme is rather fancy and interesting. It's certainly not unheard of: programs in Chicago and other cities use embedded RFIDs to track household recycling volume. But the 4th Bin judges seemed most attracted to the simple telescoping design, that serves the double duty of letting the container expand, and also alerting people when it's full.
The winning e-waste recycling symbol is the work of Two Twelve, a New York City firm. Competition judge Susan Szenasy of Metropolis had this to say about it:
"I like the logo's simplicity and humor. I also appreciate it for its somewhat anthropomorphic form, which gives an emotional appeal to a design that, in less sensitive hands, could have become an over-simplified abstraction, which so many modern logos have become (and ah so boring!). e-recycling needs the public's undivided attention and emotional involvement. I think this design will have a wide appeal."
For more, check out:
Tighter e-Waste Rules Could Recover Tons of Money
Recycling E-Waste In Confidence: A Reachable Goal
It's Time to Say Goodbye to e-Waste: Why Our Gadgets are Toxic to Developing Nations (Planet Green)