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Eliminating the inevitable human error when deciding whether a cup is recyclable or not.

Photo of Carolina Manent
1 1

Written by

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

New York University

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

We found that customers are open to making changes to improve the environment, but are sometimes misinformed and accidentally make the wrong decisions when disposing their trash.  Smart Trash aims to remove the guesswork and make the decisions for you. 

Recyclable fiber cups will be printed with barcodes.  The inside of the Smart Trash is divided into two sections, recycling and waste.  When an item is tossed in the bin, it will land on a platform while the Smart Trash scans the waste looking for the barcode on the cup that designates it as recyclable.  The platform will open up either the left or right side, allowing the waste to move to its appropriate side of the bin.  

The Smart Trash will be implemented in-stores and hopes to improve the recycling process. 

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Hot / Cold Fiber Cup

What regions do you plan to address with your solution (and how will you accomplish this)?

NYU Campus cafe's.

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

Our target market is the to-go cup user.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing
  • Prototyping

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Materials and Technical Development
  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Waste and Infrastructure
  • Product / Industrial Design and Prototyping

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

Group of NYU students from varied academic and professional backgrounds.

In what city are you located?


In what country are you located?


What is your legal / organizational structure? (if applicable)


How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Thank you Carolina Manent and team. That's an interesting way to address the issue of recycling. Reading your description made me think of a project by an NYU student team:
Happy to put you in touch with them if you want to explore the idea further.
When prototyping further, you might want to explore different technical options (beyond barcodes). I'm also wondering if you could not at the same time that you help the sorting use this as an opportunity for education. See for example:
Are you imagining all bins integrating this system? Have you found out who manages public trash cans in cities - for example in NYC?
How are you planning to prototype this idea?
Looking forward to seeing your idea evolve.