Who is Disbin?

Disbin is the eco-concept of Helen Mays, a New Zealand writer and designer. Helen is a dedicated recycler and all her many design concepts are around eco-friendly products or services.

Helen Mays - Disbin“I like to be innovative and resourceful and have always been a big fan of recycling and reuse. I redesign and reuse all sorts of furniture and clothing. I really enjoy the process while keeping a low carbon footprint."

The total overall concept Helen has in mind is to use the Disbins as a means of communicating with people, women in particular.

"We have arranged with Youthline to put their "Textus  for Counselling" sticker on the sanitary bin for example. The sanitary bin can communicate one-on-one with a girl in the toilet stall and she can  connect with Youthline in total privacy."

The Disbin range can convey messages of recycling, events, business logos etc abd the bin itself is low cost, low carbon footprint. Self-managed recycling at source can help everyone meet their recycling objectives. 

The Disbin food waste bins are a good example of low cost, low carbon footprint collection, and the lid is used to promote composting.

Disposable sanitary bin

The idea of a disposable sanitary bin came when recycling was in still its infancy in Palmerston North.

"I had a teenage daughter  dealing with sanitary pads. They provide a commerical sanitary bin at school, but there was nothing for women in the home."

Helen did a lot of research amongst friends to learn of their  habits, then designed a small disposable sanitary bin.  Carter Holt Harvey agreed to make it.

"The first Disbin came off the production line, straight into the arms of city and district councils, who embraced the concept, knowing what a difference it could make to their sewerage and solid waste issues. I even got a written endoresment from the Palmerston North Cirty Council.”

 Youth hostels and backpackers around New Zealand were also good customers.

The NZ Government at Scott Base Antarctica quickly adopted the Disbin disposable sanitary bin as it solved a problem for them. Now the Australian Government also uses Disbins at Scott Base Antarctica.

 The small plastic wall clip was designed by Helen’s son, Isaac Mays, an industrial designer. It means clients can choose whether to hang the Disbin on the wall or sit it on a dry floor.

“Designing and making a bigger model, the 12 litre, made it possible to approach secondary schools and holiday parks/motor camps, churches and hostels. It has opened the market to all those who need self-managed sanitary disposal at an affordable price.”

The bins are now made by Charta Packaging in Wellington. 

Food waste bin concept:

The use of corn starch bags for food waste collection isn’t new, but making a cardboard bin for the food waste to be collected in is a new concept. The holes in the cardboard Disbin disposable food waste bin mean the Biobag inside the bin can breathe, allowing aerobic decomposition of the food scraps.

The size of 30 litre makes the food waste bin suitable for commercial purposes. It has enabled food collection at Massey University for the first time ever. As the bin is cardboard, it is considered a consumable and not a capital expense.The bins are sturdy and last a long time.

Nappy bins as artistic inspiration:

The nappy bins/ recycling bins arrive flat-packed and blank butthey  can be printed or decorated. They can be printed in any artwork by arrangement. They also make great noticeboards. For separating recycling at an event, or just in the kitchen, they are light-weight, low cost and very robust.

They have been a constant source of inspiration , offering a blank canvas for art and design. The designer has covered the nappy bins with; pages from the telephone directory, comics, old encyclopedias, fabric, paint and wallpaper. They have become storage bins and furniture, serving as side tables, stacked as pillars and provided storage for towels, clothes, blankets and toys.

“The options and ideas are endless, and you’ve always got a practical purpose for the bins as storage. They make great gifts for people of all ages.”

Helen has used the Disbin nappy bins very successfully in craft classes.


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Disbin is making a positive difference to the environment.