------ Stay connected


Interview: Steven Korner, Method Recycling

Interview: Steven Korner, Method Recycling

We talk a lot on social media about how much we love our (super sleek and stylish) recycling bins here at the Unity Working Moorgate offices and how we hope that they will continue to encourage our clients to maintain excellent recycling habits at work. With that in mind, we wanted to catch up with the man behind it all, Mr Steven Korner, co-founder of Method, to pick his brain about all things recycling and sustainability…

Talk to us about the inspiration behind Method Recycling…

Method was founded by myself and India Korner, a New Zealand couple with backgrounds in product and graphic design, engineering, and the world of commercial leasing. Driving around New Zealand selling generic bins out of the back of a van we continuously saw businesses trying to recycle without the tools to succeed. The way offices are designed and used has changed dramatically but bin design has continued to be an afterthought – leading to bins that are inconsistent with office design or hidden in a cupboard where they are ineffective.

Method is a design approach to recycling, we spent three years mastering Method’s award-winning 60L Office Recycling Bins. We held focus groups, prepared prototypes, and even assisting cleaners on night-shifts – every aspect of the bin was carefully considered and designed to be effective for every user in an office waste system, such as the patented Bag Retainer System, designed to maintain the beautiful, sleek appearance of the bin, while making them hygienic and quick for cleaners to change.

The bins were launched in New Zealand in January 2015 and the first run sold out pre-production. Method has continued to gain momentum with offices in New Zealand, Australia and London, also making international sales from our headquarters in Wellington, NZ to places such as New York, Thailand and Hong Kong.

The bins are diverting waste in influential facilities such as world-renowned UK architecture firm Foster + Partners, the Design Council, Qantas, the Sydney Cricket Ground, and many more.

Tell us something we didn’t know about recycling…

Most people recycle at home, but our efforts lag at work because there is a disconnect between behaviours and their outcome. At home, individuals see the impact their behaviours have such as a rising power bill or increased waste disposal. Coupled with the fact most individuals have no choice over the power and waste decisions at work. Visible recycling encourages individuals to actively engage with their waste disposal habits and creates personal responsibility in the workplace. This is in contrast to desk bins which makes it easy for users to put all of their waste into one bin. Further, if people think they are being watched, even subconsciously they are more likely to take the effort to correctly sort waste.

What does sustainability mean to Method and how do you practice sustainability in other ways aside from the bins?

Sustainability is one of the core reasons Method exists, one of our goals is to help facilitate the circular economy, by encouraging sustainable behaviours and having transparent conversations.

At Method we are still a small team, and while being an avid recycler isn’t a prerequisite to work with us, we all do our part to make the workplace a sustainable space. Sustainability in our office is a culmination of small but significant steps including, being selective about procurement and considering our purchases carefully, such as using paper tape when boxing up stock in the office. We provide reusable containers and cups for staff to use when they get lunch, reusable bags are available for supermarket runs and daily procedures are in place to ensure we are not using unneeded power.

Together we are united by a common cause through what we do, and many of these behaviours are now natural and unconscious. We also endeavour to engage in local sustainability such as earlier this year when our team participated in a beach clean up for the day.

What are your golden rules when it comes to workplace recycling?

Visible, flexible, beautiful – the core principles of our bins.

Visible: be transparent about your recycling efforts and results, make sure bins are easy to notice and placed where waste is produced. Such as a paper bin next to the photocopier.

Flexible: continue to add and move streams as the waste requirements of your facilities change. This includes assessing procurement to tell if there are ways you can optimise your purchases for your space. Such as, placing an organics bin in the kitchen for food waste, coffee grinds and moving to a caterer that uses biodegradable food packaging.

Beautiful: ensure recycling bins are out in the open and be proud of your recycling efforts.

How important is the appearance of Method bins when it comes to encouraging sustainability in the workplace?

The appearance of our bins is fundamental. Design is at the centre of our core beliefs, it has the power to not just look good but effectively change behaviours. With our signature bins, Method developed the philosophy of Open Plan Recycling, bringing bins out into the design of modern offices where they are most effective. Workplaces are spending increasingly large amounts of money on the design of our offices from the desks we use to the kitchens and bins are often hidden because they detract from aesthetics.

The bins have been developed to suit the modern aesthetics of offices, while effectively changing waste behaviours. For example, the bold colours look good but are also chosen to match the requirements of waste providers in the area, while simultaneously standing out within a space to remind users to recycle. Further, the icons help users to determine where their waste should go with a quick glance.

Methods bins are also becoming synonymous with recycling and sustainability efforts within the workplace. Meaning when they are out in the open they are a visible statement of an organisations sustainability efforts.

Do you have any advice on how Unity Working clients can practice a more sustainable work-life?

We believe in transparency around sustainable behaviours and actively engaging with staff about the waste habits of a facility. We encourage our clients to continuously monitor their waste and energy habits and report this back to staff. This will increase awareness of consumption and encourage individuals to consider their behaviours.
It is also about removing barriers, such as placing bins where waste is created and removing easy general waste options. Desk bins are an example of an easy general waste option, as people will be inclined to place all of their waste into a singular bin, reducing the likelihood of recycling and the costs of desk bins can add up quickly. With centralised bins, you purchase fewer bins, use fewer liners and they are quicker to service.

There are many more detailed examples of how to engage your staff with recycling and change behaviours in our online resources and journal articles.