How important are graphics & signage?

The importance of having clear, consistent and visible graphics and signage in recycling programmes is often over looked but they play a crucial role to the success of your diversion rates. Images and text can help to reinforce your recycling messages and educate passing users. We’ve compiled some tips to help you get the most out of your programme’s graphics and signage.

Graphics and Signage FAQ

Keep standards consistent

In the beginning, people may develop expectations of your recycling programme and start to associate different colours and fonts with different waste streams. It is vital to ensure that once you assign your materials to a particular design – you try and stick to it. That way over time, users won’t need to read images or text, they will see the signage and be able to determine which material is being collected.

TIP: We like to use green for mixed recyclables, blue for paper and grey for aluminium cans.

Use imagery

It’s important to use images and not just text on your recycling signage. People only have a few seconds to make the right decision and their brain will process an image faster than a line of text. It’s best to keep your images & words basic so that they can be seen, read and recognised from a short distance.

TIP: Keep it simple – too many images & text may overwhelm or confuse the user which could damage your participation rates.

Emphasise any non-standard materials

Your organisation may collect and recycle a material that is considered non-standard or unique such as shoes or sunglasses or pizza boxes. If this is the case, you need to ensure that this is reflected on your labelling as people may not be aware that your programme includes it and could feel it belongs in the trash.

TIP: We can personalise your bins to allow you to add whichever stream you require, as well as add non-standard colours & your logo.


For your signage to be effective, it needs to be seen! The most common placements are on the front of the container and the lid. You also need to ensure that your signage is visible from a short distance so users approaching the container can quickly make the correct decision.

TIP: We recommend a bin that uses a graphic holder as this is in the user’s line of sight – it will make your signage hard to miss!

Keep it current

Recycling laws are always changing so it’s important to make sure you’re adjusting your recycling programme to include the most up to date materials. It likely that you may need to refresh your existing signage to include any new additions (or deletions) to your collection. Supplying incorrect signage may disrupt any cohesive efforts to recycle.

TIP: Perhaps ensure that somebody in your team is responsible for keeping up to date with current recycling laws & policies.

Examples of Recycle Now standardised graphics

Recycle Now Graphics

Recycle Now (in partnership with WRAP) provide a Material Stream Overview & Guide. Which provides a list of recognised standard colours and graphics for various recycling streams. It can be downloaded here: Download Material Stream Overview & Guide

If you need any advice when it comes to signage or would like to create your very own personalised containers, please get in touch!

Friday, September 16, 2016
Scotland Excel CPC NWUPC
CIHT CIHT ILP REMA ISOQAR TRL Transpolis MIRA MIRA CHAS NIC EIC ConstructionLine Achilles (UVDB) British Ports Association Highway Electrical Association The Green Web Foundation
Prompt Payment Code Approved Signatory