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Type Green

Product Design Case Study.

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Project Overview

A solution to improve Recycling in Healthcare System


October 2021 - December 2020

7 weeks.

My role

As part of our Design Thinking course in the graduate program of University of Texas at Austin, the students were given the topic of "Recycling".

Applied Design Thinking methodologies to understand pain points and problem areas to solve them using a design solution. 

Worked with a team of 3 members from different backgrounds like Medical and Arts. 

Took lead of applying UX Design methodologies as I was the only UX Designer in the team.



Identify problems and design a solution for “Recycling” in the Healthcare system.

As part of the Design Thinking course, the objective of the project was to come up with a design solution for improving "Recycling" in any scenario or focus area.

To come up with a solution, we were supposed to support the concept with solid research and coming up with potential pain points and problem areas to improve Recycling. 

The Analysis

User Research

Our first objective was to understand the various types of waste generation and potential recyclable materials within the healthcare system. For doing the research and collecting data we chose the Qualitative research methods approach.

We used the Qualitative research methods approach to collect data and do in-depth research to find the potential problem which needs a design solution.

The second objective was to learn more about the existing recycling system in place and find potential flaws in the system which can be improved using a design solution.

( 1 )
Subject Matter Expert Interviews
What did we do?

Conducted interviews with -

  • UT-Waste Management Department

  • Clinic Doctor

  • Nurse

And, why? 

To understand -

  • Waste generation

  • Waste collection

  • Waste disposal

( 2 )
Contextual Inquiries
What did we do?

Observed and interacted with 

- Pharmacists

- Doctors

- Nurses

And, why? 

Emphatize process of -

  • Clinical worker

  • Pharmacist

  • Waste management department

( 3 )
What did we do?

Experienced -

  • Medicine Disposal

  • Covid Testing

And, why? 

Understand process through - 

  • Patient's perspective

  • Doctor's perspective

( 4 )
Online Research
What did we do?

Collected data from -

  • Articles

  • Youtube videos

  • Research papers 

And, why? 

To learn about -

  • Post waste collection

  • Recycling process

  • Waste management system 

# Research Findings

Based on the collection of data from multiple sources, we used the method of card sorting to organize data based on our findings. In order to understand better, we added some pictures of the scenarios and added data points based on different categories.

The data points included pointers related to the process of waste generation and possible areas of problems where there is a scope of improving the process of Recycling waste materials within the Healthcare system.

Wallboard with research conducted

Major contributors of waste in Healthcare System

1. Hospitals & Clinics 

Within a Hospital and Clinical setting, there are various types of waste generated on a regular basis. It has multiple types of waste like wrappers, gloves, paper wraps that can be recycled.


2. Pharmacy

Medicines and Pharmacies are yet another source of waste generation. It has various recyclable materials within our Houses and Pharmacies like Pill bottles, Cardboard boxes, Medicine wrappers

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3. Clinical Labs

Clinical Labs involve the generation of a huge amount of chemical waste which can be reused if separated properly and stored. Waste plastic containers are another source of recyclable materials.

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Narrowed Area of Focus

We realized that we had too much data to process and analyze from 3 different categories of waste generators.  

On top of the wide research area, we had limited time to find a potential problem and also come up with an ideal solution. 

So we were able to narrow down our focus area -

Clinical &
Hospital Setting 

Among the 3 major categories of waste generation in Healthcare systems, we focused on the potential situation to improve the process of recycling within Hospitals and Clinics.


# In-depth Research

Within Clinical and Hospital settings, the major waste generators are the clinical staff like Doctors, Nurses, Surgeons, etc. For our in-depth research, we created a Journey Map of Clinical Staff interacting with Hospital System

What did we learn?

Through this Journey mapping we were able to understand the complete process of the clinical workers, how they inspect their patients and how they interact with the Healthcare system to dispose off the generated waste during the check-up.

Pain Point # 1

During collection, Potential recyclable materials do not always end up in the right recycling bin.

Pain Point # 2

After collection, All recyclable facilities cannot recycle all types of plastic materials that are collected.

# Define Problem

Asking the necessary questions -

Who are causing these problems?

Who is it impacting and How?

What are they doing wrong?

Who all are directly involved during this process?

Problem #1

For Clinical workers,

Fast-paced environment, hard to focus while finding the right recycling bin.

Not sure if the particular item is recyclable or not.

Convenience takes over, and the recyclable material ends up in the trash bin.

Problem #2

Types of Plastic

There are 7 types of plastics, not all can be recycled.

If all types of plastics are mixed while recycling, it produces low grade products.

Need of sorting facility which is an extra cost of money and energy.



Once the problem area was defined we conducted multiple brainstorming sessions to come up with an appropriate solution to solve the problem of recycling within Healthcare Systems. 

Concept #1

Smart bin

A smart trash bin, based on the NFC code of the products sorts the items put in the bin according to the type of material.

Concept #3

Color-coded materials

Color code all recyclable materials within a clinical setting, which will make it easier for the clinical staff to identify recyclable objects.

Concept #2

One type of material

In a clinical environment replace all the types of recyclable material with a single type of material which will help avoid the extra cost of sorting.

Concept #4

Training Clinical workers

Train clinical workers and make them aware of the importance of recycling and promote methods within Hospitals and clinical environments.

Feedbacks & Learnings

We learned that a solution like Smart Bin is not an ideal solution to scale at bigger scale it make it more feasible and cannot be made readily available for the Clinics.

We also found that Training is also present in the existing system, and still it does not ensure the efficiency of collecting recyclable waste properly.



Problem Overview

1. Make the task of identifying the right recycling bin easy for the Clinical workers

2. Processing waste materials made of different types of plastics reduces the chances of recycling.

Final Concept

1 type of Green colored material called Type Green to replace all plastic-based recyclable items within a Clinical Setting.

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How it solves the problem.

Clinical workers don’t need to remember what items are recyclable or not.

Improves accuracy, first instinct is to match the color.

Less scope of learning, not changing much of their work routine.

Solves the problem of segragation of waste materials while processing.

Increases the chances of recycling materials and not end up in landfills.

Less scope of learning, not changing much of their work routine.

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# Prototyping

After our concept was finalized, we had to test our solution with users to find the efficiency of our concept. In order to analyze we recruited some of our friends to test the color association theory. For the 2nd prototype we created a mock scenario of patient check up with out prototyped product.

Prototype 1

What did we do?

We tested the human tendency of participants to relate different objects with similar color. 

We gave participants "Green" colored object and two colored boxes (Green & Orange). And asked them to put the green object in any boxes of their choice.


What did we learn?


Participants choose the green box for the object we gave them to put.


When asked to other 2 particpants, their first instinct was to choose Green too.

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Prototype 2

What did we do?

We applied the learning of first instinct of users to relate colors in the clinical environment setup.

Made Green colored packages for Surgical wraps, Equipmment wrappers, Gloves, etc. Created a mock scenario with clinical worker to perform regular check-up and dispose waste at the right bins.


What did we learn?

Participants found it easier to relate similar Green colored wrappers & objects with same Green colored trash bin within the clinical setting.

No need for the Clinical workers to know if the particular item is recyclable or not and avoids the confusion among them.

The placement of the bins is also one of the factors which should be considered to improve the efficiency of the task.


How important role feedback plays in the design process.

How a simple design intervention can help impact the problem at a larger scale.

Value of good research.

How to narrow down the research findings.


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