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Case Study: S.O.R.T. Partnership

Creating an agreed-upon standard for waste management for all Kent County municipalities to utilize for residential and business services.


TIS partnered with the Kent County, City of Grand Rapids and ArtPrize to create an improved waste management system for Grand Rapids events—S.O.R.T.—which was launched at the Grand Rapids Hispanic Festival 2016 and ArtPrize Seven. This was the first system for which all Kent County municipalities were able to agree upon as a standard for identifying different waste streams for residents and businesses. We also branded the program and developed a brand awareness consumer campaign to launch the program and help people learn to STOP and S.O.R.T.


Recycling—let alone composting— has proven to be tricky business for citizens. What to throw in which bin can be very confusing. We developed a visual system that utilized the basic color of a stop sign, along with a fitting narrative to help consumers stop, take a minute to realize what they're disposing of, and ensure to place it in the correct bin while at events in Grand Rapids.

In 2018, 200 of the 250 public Grand Rapids events requested use of stations at their event.

These standards have been adopted in locations like Meijer stores, Millennium Park, the City of Grand Rapids' trash and recycling carts, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, and museums like UICA and GRAM.



For years, Kent County municipalities had no standard for citizens to understand different options they have to eliminate waste: compost, recycling, and landfill. Not only was there no standard in place, but there also wasn't a standard that multiple entities could agree upon implementing county-wide for residents and businesses.


After much in-depth research and brainstorming sessions, TIS used color psychology, the analogy of a stop sign and iconography to create the S.O.R.T. concept (Separate Organic, Recycling and Trash). We also designated stations using the color-coded identifiers and anlogy to make it easier for residents to undersand which bins to use for their waste.

THE RESULT stations have become a waste management program that can be used county-wide with educational materials and opportunities incorporated right in each station.