Compost / recycling / landfill Signage & Icons

illustration, print work

Directional signage for the waste receptacles in the Oryana Cafe.

Oryana Community Co-op, like many food co-ops, has a reputation for being very conscientious with regards to waste management and environmental impact. For this reason, the Oryana Cafe uses a diverse assortment of containers, utensils and other packaging solutions which are either compostable or recyclable, and very few (if any) which are neither.

The challenge is that recyclable and compostable products must be disposed of separately; compostable items will biodegrade and “gum up” recycling systems. Landfill items have the potential to contaminate the recycling stream, as well. In short, if the consumer puts disposes of something improperly, well-intended efforts towards progressive waste management can go…well, to waste.

The signage the co-op had been using to designate receptacles had proved relatively ineffective; department staff asked whether the marketing team could come up with a better solution. It was suggested that the signage include images; however, since taking easily recognizable photos of clear, shiny packaging is difficult, I decided to pursue a more graphic representation.

Icon construction detail.

I designed a full set of custom isometric icons based on the packaging and utensils the store actually used; by the time I finished, several more had been added (one of which was probably the most complex item to represent in the style I had chosen, shown above).

A selection of complete icons; a compostable soup cup, coffee cup, an apple (to represent food waste), a cold beverage cup w/straw, and a pie/quiche wedge container.

Once the icon set was finished, the signage itself needed to be designed; the signs needed to be visible from the front of the receptacles, which meant they needed to either adhere to the front of the bins, hang above the counter, or rest behind the apertures in the counter (pictured below).

The oval from the Oryana logo had been used in a few other signage applications throughout the store; I worked with Image360 (a sign company in Traverse City) to design signs of the same shape which were printed, cut, scored, and bent to achieve a free-standing effect.

The finished signs, in context.
An alternative sign format, designed to be adhered to the back of free-standing receptacles.