While we Americans have been steadily improving our recycling habits -- we've gone from 30% recycled waste in 2002 to 33.4% last year according to the EPA (PDF)
-- we still have a long way to go. At least two thirds (or more) of our waste could easily be recycled. So why don't we? Well there are a few reasons that I've deduced simply through observation, and they all center around recycling bins.
Most curbside recycling programs require the separation of materials into paper, plastic, glass & metal. The problem is that people generally speaking do not much like the way trash cans look, and the idea of having three of them feels to most as an aesthetic intrusion. "They take up too much space" is another one I have heard frequently. And for a typical household, the amount of plastic and metal containers emptied in a week exceed the capacity of a normal-sized recycling bin.
So any object that could solve all three problems, and make recycling feel "fun" I think becomes a major household technology innovation. The Ovetto recycling station does just that. Debuted at the London Design Festival, the recycling station has 3 containers which hold about a standard grocery bag's worth of recyclables. The whole object spins, so you can put it in the corner and rotate it to get the proper compartment -- 3 bins in one basically. A nifty "crusher" sits atop the bin, so you can compress metal and plastics down, saving space.
And, the thing is actually really beautiful. Designed by Gianluca Soldi, the Ovetto recycling station comes in several color combos. The all-black model is made of 100% recycled plastic. So now you can have your recycling without all the clutter. But watch out, once you buy one of these you may be tempted to buy a matching Egg Chair and go all 60's mod.