Method Recycling revolves around innovation, its innovations are its recycling bins and associated systems. Method provides a recycling system designed to increase recycling rates, decrease the amount of waste going into landfills, work toward a circular business model, enhance the corporate social responsibility of other organizations, and educate consumers towards creating positive change. This innovative product and system work toward three of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s); through waste management and resource efficiency it helps achieve goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities. Through effective recycling and product stewardship, it helps achieve goal 12, Responsible Production and Consumption. The results of increased recycling and reduced waste to landfill help mitigate climate change, aiding goal 13, Climate Action.
University of Otago
Method Recycling began with innovation, with a goal to redesign waste. Method’s innovation is a recycling system, this system is based around ‘Recycling Stations.’ Recycling stations are a group of bins, often attached, placed in a centralized location in an area such as a workplace. Each bin is labelled with a different type of waste, Method provides bins for; Landfill, Organic Waste, Mixed Recycling, Glass, Co-Mingled Recycling, Paper, and Plastics + Cans. Method’s recycling stations are designed to separate types of waste so that it can be collected and recycled properly, as opposed to everything being put in one bin and going to landfill, this results in more waste being recycled, and less waste going to landfill. The recycling in this system is more effective, the separated waste can be sent to appropriate recycling centres. The recycling stations are also designed to create positive behavioural change, the centralised stations encourage breaking the habit of using only one bin, and positioning in a communal area it communicates good recycling habits and encourages everyone to get involved. Method also provides customers with advice on how to implement this kind of change in their business. Method practices what they preach, the second part of this innovation is that the bins are designed sustainably. They are made with 50-80% recycled plastic depending on the model of the bin, furthermore, the company’s product stewardship sees that at the end of product life the bins are sent back to be broken down and used to manufacture more bins; a resource-efficient circular system. The bins are elegantly designed to comfortably fit into professional environments and provide a visible marker of sustainable action.
“We are creating the desired future state for waste streams.” – Steven Korner, CEO.
Method’s innovative approach to recycling solutions emerged from years of extensive research and analysis, beginning in 2013, of the waste streams of influential businesses, facilities, public spaces and more. Co-founders Steven and India Korner researched ways to create efficient, yet sustainable systems of recycling. The research included spending time with customers to see what was required, and getting in behind the scenes to understand how waste works within a workplace, Steven recalled
“I even did things like work an overnight shift with cleaners to understand how they engage with waste and how they work.”
The couple then combined forces, Steven with an engineering background, India with product design, alongside product designer Lucy Cant to design prototypes that lead to the first Method 60 Litre bins. The innovative system and bins are the core of the company, they are direct representations of Method’s purpose; to be designers, sustainability advocates, and change facilitators.
Method’s innovative approach to recycling is helping to create a better world through its contribution to the United Nations’ SDGs. Offices and event spaces are usually located in cities, through helping businesses and other customers with their waste management and resource efficiency, this innovation contributes to Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, specifically targets 11.6 and 11.b, by helping businesses reduce the environmental impact of cities.
The innovation helps achieve Goal 12: Responsible production and Consumption by helping influential businesses and other customers recycle multiple types of waste effectively, educating and changing recycling habits of members of society, as well as Method’s circular approach reducing waste generation through recycling and reuse.
The increased rates of recycling and reduced amount of rubbish to landfill aid in climate mitigation, and their systems can help educate people about mitigating climate change, the innovation contributes toward Goal 13: Climate Action.
Method Recycling Co-Founders Steven & India Korner.
“India and I had previously been running a business in the waste space, but it had no real innovation to it. However, the business gave us insights; waste and sustainability were important to customers, but also very important as a social issue that the world is grappling with.” – Steven Korner.
After analyzing these insights, Steven and India identified that a real difference could be made in workplaces, their research showed them that in workplaces it was common for everyone to have desk bins, whenever things were consumed the waste all went into the same bin. They also noticed that workplaces were not effectively communicating good recycling habits.
After identifying a need, and with motivation to make a change, they realized that with their backgrounds they could come together to go through a proper design process and produce a product that is effective and marketable. This is when the Method Recycling system began taking shape.
Method’s recycling stations are designed to combat the norm of desk bins in offices or singular bins in open spaces, Steven stated
“The idea is to remove desk bins so you don’t have that easy option, and instead you put a centralized system that everyone goes to, where you can then communicate that good behaviour and create better recycling habits.”
Steven and India were motivated by the idea that they could create large scale change, by designing a business solution that can help influential businesses across the world make a difference.
Steven does what he does because he cares about the planet and sustainability, stating
“I spent a lot of time on the coast growing up, enjoying New Zealand for what it is. I am passionate about the beauty we have, and I think that translates to a personal value; we should be making sure we look after the environment we have.”
This core value inspired and is demonstrated by the innovation designed to educate others toward behavioral change, reduce waste pollution, and by the circular approach Method takes to designing their bins, working toward maximizing resource efficiency by recycling and reusing materials whenever possible.
The Method Recycling system is the innovation that created the business, the design of the products and system is what brought the idea and the business to life. The innovative model gained traction rapidly and Method managed to take off quickly. They rapidly gained customers and internationalized to countries such as Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United States. The original innovation gained recognition and credibility in the short term, and this provided growth and success. Continuous improvements and additions to the innovative system, such as the 20-liter bin made with 80% recycled materials, continue to generate growth, credibility, and success in the long term. Method began growing quickly and have not shown signs of slowing down, last year they were the 15th fastest growing company in New Zealand and have a high growth trajectory with offices in New Zealand, Australia, and the U.K.
Method’s recycling systems have changed the ways in which offices and other spaces around the world are recycling. This innovation may not have had a large societal impact in the short term, as it is quite a large change to make, however, in the long term it has seen people changing their recycling habits for the better, as businesses and organizations are beginning to make a difference. The long-run effects may not have fully been realized, but Method are in a great position to make a big difference.
Method’s innovation has already proven to be beneficial to the environment. The manufacturing of the bins, as well as the Method system is having proven impacts such as increased recycling rates and a decrease in the amount of rubbish going to landfill.
The innovation set Method up for success, after launching in 2015 the company’s first production run of recycling bins sold out pre-production. By the middle of the same year, Method Recycling had customers setting up systems in Australia, and by the middle of 2016, they had products in Singapore and Hong Kong. Method won awards for design in sustainable packaging in 2015 and won the ‘Deloitte Fast 50 One to Watch Rising Star’ award for the wellington region in 2016, while in the same year being finalists at the New Zealand Innovation Awards. In 2018 Method won Westpac New Zealand’s business growth grant, they won the Deloitte Fast 50 award again, and won the ‘Best Emerging Business’ award at the Export NZ awards. In 2018 Method opened its first office in the UK and completed large business deals in the United States. The innovation is the business, its success has led to the business succeeding. The innovation has provided Method with the opportunity to grow and expand, trading with other countries and taking investment opportunities setting up offices in Australia and the U.K. The innovation has motivated the business to continue innovating and improving, this has led to continuous growth in the long run, the company is as ambitious as ever to continue growing and increase their impact across the world.
Within the business, the innovation has brought together a team of employees working toward achieving a common goal, as Marketing Manager Lee Bright put it
“Work can be difficult, but we have a close-knit team that works hard but also has fun, particularly working towards a shared mission.”
“We are in this privileged position where we can change habits within the workplace, which can then correlate to habits at home as well.” – Steven Korner
Recycling can be a confusing thing for a lot of people, a workplace provides an environment where people can be educated about recycling and what they should be doing, this is exactly what Method is working to achieve. Method’s systems are changing the way people recycle and educating them on the recycling process, creating positive behavioral change. The education on the issues Method is working to combat has the potential to create behavioral change among society in other aspects of sustainability, such as water usage.
Method’s production of bins in New Zealand in the last year alone used 44 tons of recycled plastic, which would have ended up in landfills or the Ocean. This circular approach is far better than a classic linear approach, as Method continues to close the loop and innovate the long-run effects will speak for themselves. Method's systems have already proven to create changes in the way people recycle that have direct impacts on the environment. One example of this is a construction site in Australia that implemented Method bins on-site, within the first week they had diverted 80% of their waste from landfill into recycling and had reduced contamination to under 2%.
Another statistic proving the environmental benefits of Method’s innovations is that Method's customers have diverted 55 million kilograms of waste from landfills in the last year alone. This is a benefit that will only scale in size as the company grows and gains more customers, demonstrating the potential for massive, long-run environmental impacts.
“Our customers have had a fairly significant impact already, we feel privileged to have been able to help them achieve this, our customers' success is our success at the end of the day.”- Steve Kroner.
Method is helping their customers create change for the better, this innovation is special as it has the potential to create large scale change in the long run.
“We believe that each of our clients, supporters, and the wider community are part of a tribe with us. To disrupt the status quo it takes a community, and we’re on that journey together.” – Lee Bright.
Steven Korner, Co-Founder & CEO
Lee Bright, Marketing Manager & Sustainability Team Leader
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Business Website: https://www.methodrecycling.com
Year Founded: 2015
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
Founded in Wellington in 2015, Method Recycling is a B Corporation certified Office Furniture Supplier specializing in the design and provision of award-winning innovative recycling solutions. Method design and manufacture visibly aesthetic yet effective recycling bins, with a focus on sustainability. Method Recycling systems are designed for offices and open floor plans, they also cater to universities, sporting grounds, event spaces, and public spaces such as Museums. Method Recycling began in New Zealand and quickly internationalized, now with offices in Sydney and London, and customers in countries such as the United States and Singapore.