War on Waste: HCD Research

Looking at how to combat the issue of incorrect waste disposal within our public spaces.

Question: What's the Issue with Waste?

Public waste systems are in place, but the population has no motivation to follow. Systemic errors are present in current recycling schemes. How can we encourage users to engage in the correct waste sorting behaviour?

IDEO Framing Challenge

In order to realize what to design for, we had to identify the issue that we needed to focus on. Using the IDEO Design Framing Challenge, we were able to dispel the ambiguity that was present during the initial stage of problem identification and focus on the topic of motivation and error correction.


As a group, we began researching different areas of the design challenge identified. Methodology consisted of a three part process in which information was gathered through different processes. Each of these processes contributed a plethora of information that the others may not have been able to fully cover. As a result, findings from one area can support findings from another, strengthening both.


In order to obtain a wide range of findings, we made observations during visits to three major Australian Cities: Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney. The overall findings were then condensed into three types of observations: User, Product, and Environment.

Research Methods

Following Observations, we utilized a variety of IDEO research methods to further understand the cause of usage error and the different factors that affect the user's attitude towards specific products and behaviours.

Created By Monika Danh

Stakeholders Map

A Stakeholders map was developed to capture all the parties involved in the waste ecosystem, and their relations to one another within the grand spectrum. The diagram allowed us to organize a large amount of players in a coherent fashion. By identifying the different stakeholders and the issues of those closer towards the centre, we are able to potentially create a more encompassing solution to overarching issues that affect all the satellite stakeholders.


The creation of the Stakeholders Map led us to the use of personas. Using the major Stakeholders as templates, we created personas that covered each individual’s background, familiarity with the waste life cycle, and their role within the waste cycle timeline.

Created By Monika Danh

Cognitive Walkthrough

A walkthrough was done in order to understand the waste timeline and its different stages. Generally, walkthroughs are used to examine the usability of a product, to see whether or not a new user can easily carry out tasks within a given system. We used this same process, with the system as the “product”, and examined the individuals involved in the stages of this process to identify the main gripes of the core users within each step.

Created By Monika Danh

Empathy Charts

Following Personas, we wanted to gain a deeper understanding of these users. We used empathy charts to do so. Empathy charts contain 4 quadrants consisting of I Think, Say, Feel, and Do. We filled out these sections for each persona. This allowed us to understand each type of user’s thought process and identify issues that could be addressed in order to make the utilization of the existing waste cycle better.

Created By Monika Danh

Artifact Analysis

There are a number of archetypal items that are included in the waste disposal process. By analyzing the details of each and classifying them in a coherent way, there may be insights that we could draw from to aid our understanding of why the disposal process is the way it is. We broke down the main components of each of these articles and reflected on their impact within the system. Furthermore, we looked not only at the product itself, but also the rituals associated with them.

Secondary Research

In order to bolster the information we had gathered through the primary research methods, we began looking at secondary research. Within this section, we looked at Case Studies, Scholarly Articles, and Literature while trying to refer our findings back to our own conclusions.

Melbourne Case Study

This case study by Patrick Gilmour, Judith Alcorn and Graham Moore for the University of Melbourne was done in an attempt to identify and address the issues of underutilized waste management facilities and practices. This was a valuable resource during the research phase, as it quantifies the qualitative observations we had made up until now.

Inconvenience Cost

This article was written and researched by Choi and Koo (2017) and highlights the aspect of inconvenience in an average user’s daily life. They look at the qualitative concept of inconvenience and assigned it a quantitative value in order to measure it for long term study. The call this value the “Inconvenience Cost” of waste sorting behaviour.


“We become attached to things if they have a significant personal association, if they bring to mind pleasant, comforting moments.

Perhaps more significant, however, is our attachment to places: favorite corners of our homes, favorite locations, favorite views. Our attachment is really not to the thing, it is to the relationship, to the meanings and feelings the thing represents.” -Don Norman


Literature relating to human centred design was referenced, with texts from author Don Norman being the primary source. The design philosophies instilled within his works became the basis in which ideation was focused on. His book "Emotional design" was the main influence during this stage, as it provides us with a look into how and why individuals act, and the underlying societal and cultural principles that drive them.

Created By Monika Danh

BJ Fogg's 6 Elements of Simplicity

The 6 Elements of Simplicity is a model that proposes that in order to get people to perform a task or action, simplicity/convenience of the 6 factors above must be present. These factors each play into one another, as their influences are not separate entities, but an encompassing unit. It is noted that this conceptual model works within the same vein as Inconvenience Cost, as the Inconvenience Cost measures the absence of the above elements in a quantitative fashion.

Affinity Map

“To create something that people will actually use, designers should focus on the area with the biggest deficit”. From this quote, we developed an affinity map with the 6 elements as the cluster heads. This allowed us to identify the elements with the most potential issues, and aided in the ideation process. Brain Cycles, Non-Routine, and Social Deviance were the three major deficit areas.

Research Team Members: Adam SmithMonika Danh, George Patrikis, Katherine Barrett.

Concept Development

Once the main research was completed, we split off and began individually ideating based on the findings that we had come across. Focusing on the framed design challenge, I began looking at ways to address it.



Three ideas were conceptualized that addressed three main topics: Emotional Design, Information Absorption, and Incentivisation. Concepts such as a smart bin that facilitated dialogue, Infrastructure integrated incentive systems, and intuitive interfaces are displayed above.

Phone and Bin
Full Shot
Rail Out
Top Angle View
Top View

Design Proposal

The Automated Recycling Incentive System (ARIS) integrates an app and physical recycling bin into one a cohesive system. Looking at successful Smart Card systems such as Hong Kong's Octopus card, and Japan's Suica Card, I wanted to create a system with the least amount of inconvenience cost, while maximizing Incentive for users. It addresses human factor issues as well as the issue of engaging people to do the right thing through self gain, social norms, and emotional design. View the video below for a full rundown.

  • Instagram - Chasiubunn
  • Linkedin

© 2020 by Nathan Siu