Recycling Can Eye-Level Sign

Middle school students are in such a hurry that they often miss the waste sorting procedures posted on side of the collection bins. Sometimes, you just need to get in their face. Presenting these busy teens with eye-level messages on how to properly sort their waste will, at the least, limit their claim that they "didn't see the sign". This instructable is on how to create a cheap eye-level sign for a 44 gallon Brute garbage/recycling/composting collection bin. Placing signage at eye-level with proper waste sorting procedures supports clear messaging because it eliminates bodily interference often associated with signage mounted on the side of the collection bin. So go ahead, get in their face with the important message of how to properly sort their waste.

Note: this instructable is a work in progress and will be updated as the prototypes are built, tested, and revised.



  • 44 Brute garbage can (other sizes and types of can's might work, but this design takes advantage of the handles on a Brute can)
  • 4 - 1/2" PVC Street El 90Deg SXMPT ($3.50)
  • 2 - 1/2" PVC Female Adapter SXMPT ($1.50)
  • 2 - 1/2" PVC El 90Deg with Side Outlet (3-way) ($2.00)
  • 2 - 1/2" PVC El 90Deg ($1.00)
  • 2 - 1/2" PVC Tees ($2.00)
  • 4 - 1"X5/16" Hex Bolts ($1.00)
  • 4 - 5/16" Nylon Lock Nuts ($1.00)
  • 4 - 1/4" Washers ($0.65)
  • 4 - 5/16" Washers (0.75)
  • 2 - 10' 1/2" PCV pipe ($4.00)
  • 1 - 12 X 24" Sign

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Step 1: Prepare the PVC Fittings

Step A: Drill 5/16 hole in bottom of El so that it is in the center of the slip joint bottom.

Step B: Use a pocket knife or similar to remove PVC ridge inside the slip area (see image)

Step 2: Bolt Sign Pole Base to Can Handle

Step A: If there are not already holes in the handle, drill 5/16 holes. Thread the bolts up from the bottom of the handle with the 5/16 washers on the bottom of the handle (between the bolt head and the handle).

Step B: Thread the female X slip adapter onto two of the El's; slid the other two El's threaded end into the slip side of the adapter to create a "U" piece. (Future design might be to use just slip joints instead of the threaded joints)

Step C: Place the new "U" down into the handle, aligning the bolts so they protrude up into the bottom of the El's.

Step D: Place the 1/4 washer down into the Els over the bolt threads, and then use a 1/2 deep socket to thread the locking nuts down onto the threads.

Step 3: Cut PVC Pipe to Length

Two 10' lengths of 1/2" PVC pipe was needed to make the following cuts:

  • 4 - 22" pieces
  • 2 - 9" pieces
  • 2 - 4" pieces
  • 1 - 24" pieces

Note: these were the sizes that worked on a 44 gallon can. A 55 gallon can would probably need these lengths, particularly the top 24" piece, to be adjusted. The four 22" pieces are the upright poles and need to be kept somewhat long so the garbage bag can be removed without interfering with the sign.

Step 4: Assemble the Sign Posts

Step A: Slide the 22" poles down into the slip joints of the Els attached to the handles.

Step B: Attach the two Tees on the back two vertical poles, and the 3-way to the front poles, tying them together with the 4" PVC pieces.

Step C: Install the lower horizontal cross pole into the remaining slip joint of the 3-way.

Step D: Install the 9" extensions into the Tee's and then top the extensions with the two Els.

Step E: Install the top horizontal cross pole between the two Els.

Step F: Push or tap all the joints together so they are tight. Glue is not necessary as these slip joints are pretty tight.

Step 5: Attach the Sign

I used velcro strip to attach the sign for this build version. The sign was just a blank piece of corrugated plastic, but I'll replace it with an actual message sign or decals. I'm also going to use rivets to attach the final sign.

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    19 days ago

    Looks good. Nice and simple too! : )