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By Lauren• 4 Dec 2018
Wellington husband and wife duo Steven and India Korner sell beautiful recycling bins.
After successful careers in product design, engineering and commercial leasing, it was wanting flexibility while starting a family that convinced them to quit their roles in 2011 and buy an existing company; on-selling products in the waste space.
A year in, after gaining insight into the industry and with the knowledge that came from their previous careers, they realised they could transform office recycling to encourage better waste disposal habits.
“We were fortunate to have the income from the existing business, as we spent several years researching and getting our new business, Method, up and running. It wasn’t until we got a product to market that we could start to get some cash-flow into the new business. We were supposed to get the Method recycling bin to market before our second son, Ralph, was born who is now four; but we had delays, and our new product was launched in January 2015 when he was nine months old.”
Noticing beautifully designed offices with recycling bins tucked away out of sight, the Korners realised this made employees disengaged with recycling and unlikely to practice sustainable habits at work.
“We saw amazing workplaces that only had desk bins, which were used for everything, so very little was being recycled. Some offices had one recycling bin, but that was often an ugly wheelie bin that was hidden away and hard to get to - so diversion from landfill was low. We thought recycling could be better designed to fit into these beautiful spaces and encourage recycling to send less waste to landfill.”
With an eye for design, Steven and India analysed office design trends – across a variety of businesses, facilities, and government departments – to streamline production of their 60 litre Office Recycling Bin and create a solution for all workplaces.
For Steven and India, the design process was paramount to producing a solution that would work for businesses. They spent three years designing and testing their recycling bins before launch and took the nature of visibility in open plan and agile working spaces into account to reinforce accountability.
“For recycling to be front of mind we wanted it out in the open - we felt the better it looked fewer people would hide it away. We were conscious it should function well too, so we researched the entire process - it was in this research stage we uncovered a need for a way to hold liners in place. This would make it quick and easy for cleaners to change, while also hiding the liner keeping the sleek aesthetic. The Method patented bag retainer was born.”
Method bins are made in New Zealand from polypropylene – which is recyclable plastic. The Korners also chose to use this material for its specific injection moulded production process, strength and durability.
Reducing waste going to landfill and the circular economy were key drivers for Steven and India during the design phase, they considered and investigated solutions for the wider waste chain.
The Method Recycling family now includes waste streams for landfill, mixed recycling, plastics and cans, organics, glass, paper, and soft plastics. Along with additional regional streams for the Australian and UK markets. Method also sells desktop precyclers, compostable liners and heavy duty connectors to join individual bins into recycling stations.
“We started on our Method journey with 70% of our waste going to landfill. Three years later we now run at 30% to landfill,” says Paul Bonini, Westpac NZ Christchurch Facilities Team Leader.
Steven and India received capability development funding in early 2018 for export business planning and a Callaghan Innovation grant for research and development project funding.
Since launching, Method Recycling bins are now pride of place in workplaces around New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, the UK and US. You can spot them at Wellington Airport, and the offices of Qantas, Canva, BNZ, Atlassian, Sydney Opera House and Foster + Partners to name a few.