Street Recycling Bins - Lessons from Ibiza

While away on vacation I noticed that the design of the recycling bins in Ibiza were very well thought out and we could probably take a few pointers from them. Like in many Canadian cities, Ottawa's public recycling bins could use a bit of a redesign. I'm sorry but they are nasty at times: overflowing with garbage juice leaking from the opening and jammed packed with a bit of everything (Ewww). I barely want to use them! Those little doors are so annoying and the bins are not visually appealing. I also think that we could use more of them (at least in the Byward Market).

Photo : Talkgreen
Here's what I saw in Ibiza's old town :

Don't they look much better? Each bin is assigned to a particular category of recyclable items and can be opened wide to fit items of various sizes (no jamming necessary). Each have a few images of icons showing people what goes inside, in case they don't understand or can't read the labels. Also, because of the way the handles are placed, you have to lift them and are more likely to see the icons on the bin, less likely to put an item in the wrong bin (smart design).

What's really neat about their design is that the bins are very deep (approx. 4-6 ft ) below ground so they can take on a lot more recycling and stay clean on the surface. (Unfortunately it's hard to see how deep it was on the photo)

If you look closely at the second picture you see a rectangle line on the ground around the four bins. That's a trap door that opens up, we assume to pick up the recycling. It also looks like the bin themselves could be detached from the ground to pick up the items underneaths. I thought that was pretty clever.


  1. These bins are definitely much better designed than our Ottawa bins. And they actually look clean and well-maintained!!

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  2. The photo of the "Ottawa" one is a story. Ever seen them empty one of them? They literally just empty all the bins into the same truck/container. They're so often cross-contaminated that they sort them at their processing facility (if at all).

    With the Ibizia ones you posted, you'd still get the same problems, namely, people putting garbage in the recycling bins.

    For a good example, check out the bins on the grounds of the University of Ottawa. The recycling containers are clear, with clear bags inside, so that you can see what's inside, and also to make it harder to get away with throwing trash in the recycling container (à la "Did Not Wash Hands" flashing washroom sign from The Far Side).

  3. Hey! Yes, our bins in Ibiza are very good. I think one reason why they're so easy to use is because the lid is lower down, meaning you don't have to stand on your tip toes to lift it up. You also just drop the rubbish down into the bins rather than having to heave heavy bags over your shoulder and throw into the higher bins. The only thing is that in Ibiza the residents are far more likely to adhere to the labeling and not be lazy. I think this design would fail terribly in the UK as people would put things in the wrong bins just to be annoying. I don't know what it's like where you are but these bins need to be in areas with good a good sense of community spirit.


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