Design focus: Totem
Discover the story behind our award-winning Totem waste separation and recycling unit.
The problem: For many households, the need to separate different types of waste and recycling before collection has led to the use of additional bins, bags or boxes, which all create clutter in the home.
The solution: Totem is an innovative kitchen bin with multiple compartments that allow different types of waste and recycling to be easily separated. Unlike other waste separation bins, Totem’s compartments are arranged vertically, which makes them uniquely space-efficient and very easy to use. With Totem, all your waste and recycling is contained within one compact design.
In recent years, awareness has grown around the problem of dealing with the ever-increasing amount of waste that we all produce at home and how relatively little we recycle. To help tackle this, many households are now expected to split out different types of waste and recycling before collection.
Conventional kitchen bins, with their single compartments, are not much use for this and so we found that many households were improvising; using multiple bins, separate bags and boxes or additional containers, which were often unsuitable for the task and created more clutter.
Our in-depth research showed that waste and recycling needs varied greatly depending on household size and composition, as well as the requirements of different council areas. For example, some UK boroughs collected up to four different types of waste whilst others collected less. That meant any solution would have to be flexible, allowing the user to tailor the product to their requirements.
Looking at existing products available, we also found that most solutions for waste separation lacked functionality or meant compromising on capacity – products with multiple sections were either overly large or had tall, narrow compartments that were awkward to fill and empty.
That led us to think about how the space could be divided more efficiently and ultimately to Totem’s unique, vertically separated design. This revolutionary configuration ensures Totem takes up the same space as a conventional kitchen bin, without compromising on capacity, and that the compartments are easy to fill and empty. It also provides maximum flexibility for organising waste and recycling.
Over three years of extensive design, development and testing have gone in to creating Totem - the biggest project undertaken by the team, both in terms of size and scale. It was also the launch product in a completely new category for the company, being the first product in our IntelligentWaste™ range, which has since developed and grown significantly.
Earlier this month we received a visit from Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal to present us with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation for our Totem design. The award is recognised as the highest official accolade for UK businesses and we were delighted to have the honour of being presented it by the Princess Royal.