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ReLS: Recycling Labelling Scheme proposal

Sumaiya Tilly

Highly commended

for well thought through idea that relates to sustainability.

Project title

ReLS: Recycling Labelling Scheme


T317 Innovation: Designing for change

About me

I have an interest in web design, product design and mobile and cloud technologies. I also have an interest in coordination and organisation, looking at ways of assisting productivity, and making processes more efficient. 

My goal is to be involved in designing and improving products, services or systems that are accessible and environmentally compatible 


ReLS introduces improved text instructions along with coloured shapes, printed on product packaging, allowing consumers to identify materials, and match them to the correct recycling container. This is paired with labels which consumers or councils attach to their existing recycling bins. A smartphone app can provide additional instructions by scanning the packaging barcode.

Packaging recycling is confusing for consumers and labelling on packaging is inconsistent across products. Labels don’t always contain enough information on how and where to recycle. Consumers often place packaging in the general waste although collected by kerbside recycling, which leads to negative impacts on the environment.

User trips into current recycling services were taken, and a consumer survey and recycling activity was conducted. These determined consumer experiences and understanding of packaging recycling and confirmed the initial problem statement. This led to ideas ranging from approaching councils to change their services, to education to improve understanding, to the use of available technologies to assist consumers. The design which best fit the brief was selected and refined using prototyping and user feedback. 

The improved labelling includes words and shapes like the children’s toy where shapes are matched to holes in a container, which most young children can use with ease. After initial set up, most adults should be able to match packaging to containers using a similar method. 

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