3D Bin Displays

Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $2,783

Letter of Intent:


Our goal is to install new 3D bins – displays with physical items instructing people how to sort their trash, recycling, and compost – in the Husky Union Building (HUB)’s food court, the Husky Den. These 3D bins should help UW divert waste from landfills, educate and engage the student body about the waste disposal process and it’s impacts, and ease the burden of maintaining the previous bin displays.  

The Husky Den has ten three-bin (compost, recycling, and trash/landfill) waste disposal stations, each of which has had 3D bin displays for the past few years. The 3D displays have been far more effective than any other form of signage currently used by the UW. A recent study by students in ENVIR 250 found that UW’s 3D displays (referred to in the study as “signs with physical items”) had the highest rate of sorting accuracy of the signage studied. Waste was disposed with 81% accuracy at bins with 3D displays, compared to just 61% accuracy for posters and 68% for videos (Chiado et al.). Despite their effectiveness as educational tools, the 3D displays have been a makeshift, labor-intense operation to maintain. Created by UW staff and students on their own time by sawing plastic bins in half, hot-gluing relevant compost, recycling, and trash materials onto the half-bin, and covering the open front with sheets of polylactic acid, the bins need frequent maintenance. Thus far, the bins have had to be maintained by a single member of the UW Sustainability Office, who cleaned and repaired the bins once a month without pay. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the bins’ open-top design has led students to use the displays as basketball hoops for food items and condiment packages.  

Over winter break of the 2018-2019 school year, HUB custodians took bins down for cleaning and they were thrown away by accident. Because HUB management and Housing and Food Services will not replace the bins, EcoReps would like to take this opportunity to 1) improve the displays by creating more effective and more easily maintained signage and 2) engage the broader UW community in a conversation about the waste disposal process. 

Sustainable Impact: 

With our project we are hoping to make a sustainable impact on the UW campus by teaching people about how to recycle and compost waste properly. This project will help our campus to be more sustainable by diverting waste, which the university produces a huge amount of, from going to landfills.  Landfills tend to be located near low-income communities and communities of color. While this environmental justice issue also requires action at the state level, our project will help reduce UW’s contribution to the problem by combatting our reliance on landfills. By diverting waste from landfills, we will also be reducing the chances of situations like contaminating ground water streams with landfill runoff, as well as reducing the air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions generated by landfills and transporting waste to landfills. 

Leadership & Student Involvement: 

This project is a student-led project through UW EcoReps. Officers from EcoReps, Julie Tolmie and Christina Cameron, have helped guide us when it comes to reaching out to other people and other organizations, such as UW Recycling and the School of Design, for assistance in our project. Our project team includes: 

  • Justin Brave 
  • Marycela Guzman 
  • Tanya Cortes 
  • Julie Tolmie 
  • Christina Cameron 

Faculty/Staff Member:  

  • Erica Bartlett - Project Support Supervisor, UW Recycling 
  • Liz Gignilliat - Manager, UW Recycling 


Education, Outreach, & Behavior Change: 

The Husky Dens’ waste disposal signage is important to replace because UW draws students, staff, and faculty from across Washington, as well as many from out of state and out of the country. Many may not be familiar with how to dispose of compost in particular. Food waste is not the only area where students, staff, and faculty may be confused. While UW dining locations switched to compostable service wear at all dining locations in 2016, campus education on these materials lags behind. Without proper sorting, the switch is not effective as it could be. While educating students, staff, and faculty about waste disposal is important, students don’t participate in workshops or listen to presentations on correct sorting, making signage at bin stations the primary form of waste education at UW. Improving bin signage is therefore the easiest way to improve waste education on campus.  

Our project will serve as a way to increase awareness and engagement with students, staff, and faculty who use Husky Den on the waste disposal process. Each 3D display case will include facts about the waste cycle – including what happens to trash, recycling, and compost after it’s thrown into a bin, as well as how landfills impact communities and the environment. To extend the reach of these displays beyond the actual stations and reach out to the larger campus, we will work on posters to draw in attention to the new bin displays. The posters will tell the story of how we designed the 3D displays and educate students, staff, and faculty about how the UW’s waste is processed.  

More broadly, this project will show the university’s support for a culture of environmental sustainability on campus. For many, compost, recycling, and trash stations are the most visible sign of UW’s commitment to environmental sustainability.  

Feasibility, Accountability, & Sustainability:   

UW EcoReps is an RSO that has operated at the UW Seattle campus for a number of years, partnering with service learners, regular members, and the UW Sustainability Office to successfully implement environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable projects such as the quarterly Green Husky Market, a market featuring local vendors on Red Square. In addition to UW EcoReps, UW Recycling and the UW Sustainability Office have also shown support for this 3D bin display project. UW Sustainability contributed to the long-time maintenance of the existing bins and UW Recycling has assisted with the design and budget estimating process.  


Chiado J., Savanh L., Shang J, and B. Stroosma. It’s all in the signs: the effect of signage detail on composting accuracy.  

Itemized Budget:


Item  Individual Price  Number Needed  Item Total Cost 
Display case  $101.95 ($79.95-Case $22.00-Shipping)  30  $3,058.50 
Ring table holder (36 piece set)  $16.97 ($12.98-Holder $3.99)  120 (4 sets)  $67.88 
Colored Paper Backdrop  $5.99  1 bulk  $5.99 
3-Bin Display materials  $15.00  10  $150.00 
Total  $3,282.37 
Additional Funding Source, contingent on CSF funding:   UW Recycling - $500.00 


Asking  $2,782.37 
Primary Contact First & Last Name: Julie Tolmie