Project: Green Tea Leaves

Green Tea Leaves’ design brief aimed to improve the UTS Underground (Tower Building) waste management system by educating users about the waste stream and waste separation at UTS and creating facilities that are intuitive and easily understood. This has been achieved by streamlined style of signage in line with UTS’ rebranding, bin redesign and incorporating multiple educational and interactive medias.

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Primary research was crucial as it underpinned and informed our design brief. Firstly, a literature review was conducted to understand what design approaches were utilised in the past to address the organic waste problem, as well as identify information about the behaviours of the primary users of UTS: students in the 18 to 25 year old age range. We found that this cohort was one of the most food wasting age groups, were more aware of the food waste problem but lacked skills and strategies for dealing with food waste (Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW, 2011). Restricting our brief to the Underground, our group then designed conducted methodologies including a semi-structured interview with a member of cleaning staff, video ethnography and mapping of the Underground, a survey of current UTS students and staff to collect quantitative data examining users’ behaviour and education about waste management at UTS, and marketing analysis.


The semi-structured interview revealed a lack of understanding of how to use the waste management system at UTS among users of the Underground with signage and bin labelling identified as areas to further develop. This finding was further corroborated in video ethnography, showing confusion and frequent pausing among users as they approached the bins with their waste, and in our survey where over 40% of respondents said that they had trouble deciding which bin was the right one for their rubbish.

In consideration of UTS’ recent rebranding, marketing analysis was performed to inform our design approach. In the document ‘UTS Brand Guidelines April 2017’ (UTS, 2017a) and ‘UTS MCU Tone of Voice Guide’ (UTS, 2017b), we identified a comprehensive set of rules dictating the use of specific sans-serif fonts, primary and monochrome colour schemes, and the use of iconography.

Development of Ideas

After examining the Underground space, we identified decorative walls that could be instead used as a platform for education. Wallpapers were designed in the UTS branding aesthetic communicating the impact of food waste and an explanation of the waste management system at UTS accompanied by links for further information.



Existing screens in the Underground will display bright colour coded digital panels using UTS stylised iconography to inform consumers on which bin is the correct bin for each waste item as well as stream informational videos about waste reduction.

Using existing and well patronised social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, we can engage and educate students easily, providing strategies for dealing with food waste, educating on the impacts of waste on the environment and UTS’ waste management procedures, and notifying students of related UTS events.


Bin areas have been redesigned to facilitate in ease of use and reduce contamination issues by influencing user behaviour. The mouth of the bin enclosures reduces the visibility of rubbish inside to prevent users from informing their waste separation by following the behaviour of contaminating users. A bin has been added for liquid waste to encourage users to separate liquids from their recyclables. A waste flowchart has been added above the bin space to guide users in the waste separation process.

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Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW, 2011, “Food Waste Avoidance Benchmark Study“, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW, Sydney, viewed 16th May 2017, < >

UTS, 2017a, “UTS Brand Guidelines April 2017“, UTS, Sydney, viewed 1st June 2017, < >

UTS, 2017b, “UTS MCU Tone of Voice Guide“, UTS, Sydney, viewed 1st June 2017, < >


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