OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

UPDATE 3, on 20th June. Mr. Recycle - A service design model for recycling

The idea focuses on leveraging the existing retail supply chain and life cycle based information to make the recycling of packaging in a more efficient and engaging way. Currently, the consumers do not know how is their recycling impacting the environment and they do not get rewarded for their behavior and idea addresses these issues.

Photo of Shimolee Nahar
47 26

Written by

Explain your idea in one sentence

Mr. Recycle is a service model that works on rewarding consumers for their good behaviors, and uses retailers and the suppliers as a facilitator. It benefits the retailer through the sale of uncontaminated packaging materials and improving brand loyalty. It extends the idea of product stewardship to daily use, low value product.
Update 3: Sketching concepts for label and testing them out with users.
As mentioned in update 2, communication and convenience would be the key drivers for recycling. We explored the idea of consumer education at the point of sale -  on the product packaging. We created many label options - more action oriented than mere "please recycle" and quantifying the impact and thereby giving power to the users. While doing so, we came across energy trump cards, which closely align with our idea of communication the embodied energy of the product packaging, that can go back into the system. Energy trump cards are targetted at designers to make informed decisions. A similar product is "The making" app by nike. Both these tackle the problem of better material choices at design phase - while our concepts gives this scientific information (in a more palatable format) to the consumer at the point of decision making.

Energy Trump Cards: Agency of Design, UK

Concept Explorations:
Created options for on packaging label, that can be included along with the recycling symbol.Some of the ideas were relating the energy to the daily used terms like calories. Normalizing the scientific information - dollars, gallons of gasoline etc .

We refined the the concept, and collected feedback for few interesting concepts.

Feedback collected:

We gave the cans with the new information to the users and noted their reactions
  1. Curious about the number : Some of the users wanted to know more about the number on the label. They understood that the label communciated some information about the energy.
  2. Actionable information: They like the fact that they knew how much energy/impact they would be making they chose to recycle the can.
  3. Need to provide more information in different format: Since they were concerned about the credibility of the information, it would be a good idea to layer the information and provide detailed information on the "story of material" on website. There is a stronger need for the information system and calculation to be transparent - currently people do not know what information to trust with the proliferation of ecolabels and their presence on the packaging.
  4. Some suggested that it should be combined with existing recycling label which is not at all informative.
  5. Knowing the information once is sufficient - which allows users to know that the packaging material has embodied energy - some of it can be put back into the system. Therefore, it could be a norm or a campaign. Preferably it should be norm on product packaging.
  6. Many people said that they would recycle more if this kind of information is available on the packaging. Others said - it is definitely thought provoking.

Update 2: Customer journey mapping + insights from store manager

Images have also been uploaded. Feedback welcome.


Update 1: User study Findings

We did a quick user data gathering to understand what would be the drivers and blocks for having a recycling system like Mr. Recycle at grocery store, and what kind of incentives would be good motivator.  The findings are listed below:

Storage: People usually go for grocery shopping once a week and it would be difficult to store the recyclables for a week (in case of apartment residents), because the bottles and containers are bulky and and will occupy too much space at homes. Storing recyclables for few days seemed fine.

Ease of transportation: For people living in apartment buildings and using public transportation/walking for the grocery shopping, carrying the recyclables to the store would be tedious. Therefore recycling in store will depend on the mode of transportation.

Convenience vs. incentives: If it is convenient for people to recycle, they would be motivated by the incentives, otherwise the (small) amount of money that they will get in return is NOT a motivator.

1) Doing good: If people feel connected to the "good" that is coming out from the recycling - for e.g., if the points are being donated to a charity, and they can see the impact of their actions, they may consider recycling. But again, it has to be convenient.

2) Community collection: If everyone in the neighborhood recycles, they would be willing to recycle and drop off recyclables.  Some people felt that organizations could collect recyclables from the community, every week and donate the collective earnings to a charity.

3) Convenience:  If the location of the drop off points is near their home, they are willing to recycle and earn cash back.

- Monetary incentives and reverse vending at grocery stores/public spaces could add to cleanliness in the city as homeless people would be motivated to find material to recycle.

- Similar systems of recycling at retail stores already exist in different parts of the world. For e.g., reverse vending is popular in Canada, and people recycle diligently. They get the bottles to the stores in order to recycle and get cash back. However, reverse vending system is not very common in the US. The reason could be lack of awareness and the connection between the green actions and its effect.


NEW IDEAS from the discussion with the users and the team:

1) Having a trash liner which can be taken to the store and deposited directly. Can we have it designed so that it looks trendier? Can it be easily loaded into the car?The liner can be compostable. Can it be something that can be exchanged? Like a bag exchange?

2) Incentives should be more “valuable” than the amount of money.
Incentives could be:
- Store privileges and discounts: For. e.g., something like a frequent flyer miles and business class traveller.
- Ability to donate the recycling points to a charity
- Ability to measure the “Handprint” (how much difference have you made)
(Handprint is a concept by Dr. Gregory Norris)

REDEFINING the NEED: We realized that reverse vending system can work, as it works in Canada, if the consumers are aware. There is a stronger need for the environmental communication, throughout the purchase cycle, which can affect consumer decision to do the right thing.

NEXT updates:
- Feedback from grocery store personnel
- Consumer purchase cycles and identifying key touch points for environmental communication
- Creation of different representation of "energy points" labels to get more feedback on the concept

-----  ------ -------------------------------------------------------

John buys a can of Coca-cola in Walmart. He sees an "energy point" label on the can. He knows (from the campaigns what do they stand for). Energy points is the amount of energy a consumer can save if s/he chooses to recycle - it is derived using life cycle assessment of packaging material.

At the checkout, John is reminded again of the energy he can save by choosing to recycle on his entire purchase.

In his next visit to the grocery store, he gets the Coca-cola can and other packaging materials to recycle. On scanning the product, the specific section of the bin opens up - this educates the user on segregation of waste

John collects the points which can be redeemed as store credit.

As the person levels up, the app allows for bulk deposit into the kiosk "Mr. Recycle". This is the consumer facing side of the system. Now let us understand the system back end.
How does customer benefit: rewards and feedback
How does retail benefit: Goodwill and revenue
How does supplier (Coca Cola benefit) : Goodwill and advertising

Inspiration: solar belly compactor, reverse vending machine.
I have uploaded the entire presentation on behance. You can view it here.
Offline Collaborators: Mudit Mittal, Karun Jacob

Describe how your idea would help form new habits and improve recycling at home

Incentivizing customers and providing a convenient location for recycling can help change the behavior and how we buy and dispose things.

How might you design an early, lightweight experiment to further develop your idea?

We did an initial test using the can with energy point label. The consumer reaction was curiosity. Many consumers said that having this information and system in place would be effective. The other experiment we plan to do is to try it in a school cafeteria and see the effect of the system.

What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input of our OpenIDEO community?

Refining the system and making it more robust. Current challenges in the system include: contamination, effective use of reverse supply chains.

Evaluation results

9 evaluations so far

1. How well do you think this idea will create new habits for the people involved?

Really well. I can see it creating lasting behavioural changes - 55.6%

The idea is pretty good but I’m not sure it will make new habits - 33.3%

Not sure the idea would really help people establish long-lasting habits - 11.1%

2. Can the idea be scaled to work in different countries and with different people?

Yes – it’s clear how the idea could be adopted by people from far and wide - 66.7%

Seems like it could work but needs some fleshing out - 33.3%

I don’t think it could be easily used in different locations - 0%

3. Can the idea be used regardless of the local recycling schemes?

Yes – it doesn’t seem to rely on a particular collection scheme - 55.6%

Possibly – although it might work better under some schemes rather than others - 44.4%

I think it might only work under particular circumstances - 0%

4. How easy would it be to pilot a version of the idea to test it out?

Really easy – ways to test this idea further are already springing to mind - 44.4%

Piloting this idea would be possible but it could take a lot of time and resources - 55.6%

A pilot doesn’t seem easy at this point - 0%

5. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

It rocked my world - 44.4%

I liked it but preferred others - 44.4%

It didn’t get me too excited - 11.1%

View more

Team (9)

Shimolee's profile
Francesca's profile
Elisa's profile
Guy's profile
Guy Viner

Role added on team:

"Really appreciate your comments. Would love to talk more and refine the idea further. Would you have some time today/tomorrow to discuss it? My email is Thanks again."

Goders's profile
Rose's profile
Rose O'Neill

Role added on team:

"Hi Rose, Thanks! I was wondering if you could share some insights on user behavior and how we could ensure that people could get the recyclables to the store/collection points? Look forward to hearing from you. I have added you to the team. Thanks."

Paul's profile
Paul Reader

Role added on team:

"Thanks for awesome feedback."

Prachi's profile
Hermione's profile
Hermione Taylor

Role added on team:

"Thanks for sharing."


Join the conversation:

Photo of Mudit Mittal

I think this is a great idea! I think modifying the current recycle logo by adding quantified product LCA information makes a very compelling argument to those who forget to recycle often. Knowledge is power, this way I know what is the effect of my choice of recycling. If such a system comes into existence, I think a lot more people will take extra efforts to recycle.

The idea of MegaJoules as a unit is very interesting as well. Like people notice Calories for the food they intake, they may start talking of the MegaJoules they saved from trashing this week.

Photo of Rose O'Neill

I love the idea of the energy points labeling on the can and the bold till receipt!

Photo of Shimolee Nahar

Thanks Rose! Appreciate your kind words.

Photo of Paul Reader

Would be great to be able to provide a receipt like this for every transaction, perhaps with the number of points based on watthours (not kWh) . Thus a 330ml Coke can would save 250wh, or a 60g cereal box 150wh. It would be even better if, when I recycled all the packaging I got a 50% credit of energy against my electricity bill.
After all ,when I bought the product I paid all the cost of making, transporting and filling the packaging.
For those two items the energy saved is 400wh or 0.4kWh. These two items alone on a weekly basis (for me) represent about $6 in savings over a year.
It's not a lot but by weight these two items are 73g - one Texas facility throughputs 140,000 tonnes (that's 140 billion grams per year) or the equivalent of 2 billion of these two items together - that works out at approximately $240 million in savings.

Photo of Guy Viner

Glad to see that you were able to share some of the insights you gained through qualitative interviewing. It's a powerful tool! I'm also loving how you divided your insights into blocks, drivers, and other insights. This made your presentation transparent, crisp, and easy to follow. Thanks for the update!

Photo of Paul Reader

Great new update with the journey mapping and identifying drivers and blocks. It would be interesting to conduct similar exercise in broader range of communities. A survey of some sections of the Tasmanian community indicates about an 82% support for deposit on beverage containers. Having said that, convenience is clearly a key to many things in our modern society.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Exciting stuff and we're loving the visualised explanations! I wonder if there might be a way of nudging users towards green goods or fresh fruit and vegetables rather than just anything they could purchase? Or could you accumulate points towards selected worthy goods – to be redeemed when you make the target amount?

Photo of Shimolee Nahar

Hi Meena,

Thats a great thought. That would be a double reinforcing loop, where people recycle and buy healthier stuff.

Photo of Karoline K

Love that build! You could also give people the option of donating to charity, whilst still accumulating points for a prize draw or selected worthy goods. You might want to team up with Franscesca over at Recycling Loyalty Cards, who's just updated her idea with some neat app visualisations

Photo of Goders

Great idea and very neat visualization. I would be glad to integrate the points that can be redeemed to the Recyculator app idea so that once you scan products at the retailer or at home you could not only know the environmental impact but also the rewards that can be collected.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Great collaborative thinking!

Photo of Shimolee Nahar

@Karoline thanks. I will.
@Goders thanks. I think thats a great idea. I was wondering if you would want to combine the impacts and rewards into one single number. My initial interviews suggested that people find it difficult to understand/comprehend the environmental impacts. Just a thought :)

Photo of Maya König

Such a great idea and love the visuals! YES to service design! Building good recycling habits really is about thinking of the whole system. Bravo.

Photo of Shimolee Nahar

Thanks Maya!

Photo of Guy Viner

Hi Shimolee-

Really excited about the potential of this idea! I did some research into business models behind recycling, and have some contributions to add to your concept. I found these articles about the experiences of H&M and TerraCycle very helpful ;)

Moving forward, It would be interesting to explore these two points further

1- How are you going to decide what will constitute an eligible product? In the experience of TerraCycle, it was difficult to get manufacturers to provide funding for initiatives that handle waste from other manufacturers' products. What goods will you focus your effort on, and what brands?
2- What kinds of nudges can you take advantage of to incentivize users to do the back-end work at home- collecting and prepare recyclables to be returned at the retailer?

On the second point, it would be interesting to run a prototype and ask users what their greatest challenges are in returning the recycled materials. I'm wondering if there's some kind of hack that would make this process much smoother, more pleasant, or even fun!

Photo of Shimolee Nahar

Wow. Great ideas - I think it would be awesome to speak to users and get a better understanding of the blocks/drivers. Different ages/culture etc may yield different results. I am all excited about your suggestion and today, I am going to speak to fellow students in my grad school to get some insights and post them. Would be awesome to get more insights on that from you too. Super thrilled!! thanks.

Photo of Paul Reader

Here we have quite a number of loyalty card/membership systems the biggest is a thing called flybuys owned by Cole,, one of our largest retailers. Set to operate on purchase of a range of goods, not just supermarket but even things like healthcare.

Mr Recycle operates basically like Point of Sale in reverse.
Depending on their availability, recycling through Mr Recycler could leverage loyalty card schemes already in existence.

This thread originated in part with the suggestion that points might be redeemed for healthy items through store credit. Loyalty cards are a natural fit for this.
When I make purchases at my supermarket I have my loyalty card scanned like the products and according to the total spend I receive points. Here are a few scenarios:

1. Picking up on your original scenario where a Mr Recycle is linked to a store (Walmart) If I scan my loyalty card before or after the items being recycled I receive not only the feedback on energy saved but convert the energy points to loyalty points. This basically does the same thing as the app but is available to people like me who don't have a smartphone or tablet.

2. Independent Mr Recycling but connected to the net. This time I can use the loyalty card or app of my own choice because they are all partnered with Mr Recycle

3. Alternatively - I have no loyalty card or app - Mr Recycle gives me a receipt/token that is redeemable for goods (or discount on goods) at any partnership store.
This could include the ScrAPP Store - for instance - through an internet membership if once does not have the app..

Photo of Shimolee Nahar

@ Paul - Thanks for the inputs. I like the scenarios you built here. After reading your comments and going over previous discussions, I think we can say that energy points is a framework that can be used at various customer touchpoints. It would work the best if retailer provides a service model for collecting recyclables, but it can also work independently as an awareness tool along with present recycling systems, I have uploaded an image to explain it better. I will try and build a visual with energy points being used at various touchpoints. As always, I look forward to your inputs. Thanks.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Great updates, Shimolee. I wonder whether a fun way to test your idea pitching skills might be to go chat to someone at a large retail store to seek their feedback. No need to be trying to actually sell the idea to them – nor speak to someone right at the top – but could be interesting to get feedback from someone who's familiar with supermarket motivations and processes to weigh in on your proposal. Do you have any other thoughts on digging deeper to seek feedback from potential players in this system to explore some of your assumptions with them? We're excited to hear more from folks in the system you're designing for.

Photo of Meena Kadri

And here's a friendly tip: update your OpenIDEO profile so folks can dig who they're collaborating with here. Think skills, experience, passions & wit!

Photo of Meena Kadri

Awesome to hear about your user study learnings! Could be good to shift these out of the "Explain Your Idea in Once Sentence" section? :^) Check out this post for some inspiration on how you might add some structure to your post to let all the goodness of various elements shine:

Photo of Elisa Joia

This sounds like an amazing idea! In my view, there are two main points that deserve more refinement and if tackled could make this a bullet proof idea:
1. How can we make it easier for consumers to bring back their trash in a return visit to walmart? Will they remember to bring it back? Will they want to carry around trash?
We need to acknowledge that consumers will not necessarily carry around their trash back to Walmart for energy points. In that sense, Recycle Bank had a great advantage which was that users didn't have to make an extra effort be part of it.

2. What's the operational scheme and its economic value to walmart?
It would be great to simulate the idea in one region of walmart to understand exactly how trucks are routed (not all locations leave with empty trucks, so not all stores could be part of the program, for example) and what's in it for walmart to use their store space as well as employees's time to collect the recyclables as well as give away free products? Does it pay off or does it need financial support to be sustainable?

Photo of Shimolee Nahar

Hi Elisa -

Thanks for sharing great insights and thoughts.

1 - great point. I was thinking money/store credit could be a good enough motivation, but you are right it may not be. I experienced this yesterday when I carried my plastic bags for recycling to the store, and people gave me strange looks when I was carrying a bundle of bags around. Do you think instead of store recycling kiosks - we could have community level recycling kiosks? Or placed in parks/near bus stops etc - but then they would not be connected to Walmart. Or another way could be having bags which lets people "show off" their environmental consciousness/behavior.

2- thats a great point. We do not have an answer for that yet. Could stores just be a pick up point for recyclers? Or a local system can be worked where stores that do not have empty trucks, can send it to stores with more empty trucks?

Would you be interested to help us refine the idea? I will add you to the team and we can set up a time to talk more about it in detail. Thanks!!

Photo of Guy Viner

Hi Shimolee- Loving the concept and the visualizations. I agree with Elisa that her two points are worth exploring. I'm particularly interested in #2- how to integrate the program/kiosk into existing businesses by building a robust value proposition. Glad to help refine this piece of the puzzle if you're free to chat and toss around some ideas. Thanks!!

Photo of Paul Reader

Elise has raised some valid points.

1. When I was young (about 40 years ago now) we had a deposit system for recycling bottles. It was largely based around intact beverage bottles that could be washed and refilled. The deposit was modest but sufficient to make it worthwhile collecting and returning them. If the original purchaser was not interested in returning them local youth organisations would provide a collection and return service . This was economic for the beverage suppliers since the cost of washing and refilling was considerably less than replacing the containers. Milk deliveries operated in a similar fashion although since the delivery and collection was provided directly by the vendor the value of the deposit was incorporated in the cost of milk.
The introduction of metals and plastics to partially replace glass in these areas initially substantially increased the profitability of the vendors. With a far cheaper and non-returnable packaging material maintaining the unit price of contents saw greater returns. Responsibility for the used packaging/container material once shared between vendor and purchaser was shifted entirely to the purchaser.
To overcome this some jurisdictions have successfully reintroduced a container deposit scheme but now it has to have the force of law to make it workable since, having divested themselves of responsibility for the container vendors are resistant to taking it up again and actively lobby to avoid this responsibility. Nevertheless deposit schemes can and do succeed in providing an incentive/reward for consumers to engage in recycling. Once again it is possible to transfer this incentive, so that if purchasers do not individually choose to recycle a container then other individuals or groups can benefit from providing the recycling service.
While the benefit is illusory and entropic, it is also desirable and necessary to sustain good recycling.

2. Logistically it is probably better to make the recycling community based. I think the idea of the energy saving score at point of purchase is great but the recycling effort needs to be spread across all vendors so where volume of sales in WallMart might justify a Mr Recycle installation small vendors individually would not, but collectively might account for a similar volume. making WallMart responsible for potentially recycling the total volume of all vendors is an unfair burden.

Monetise the recycling by giving the recyclable material and utilise community resources for recycling infrastructure.

Photo of Shimolee Nahar

Awesome feedback. I like your idea of having groups or other individuals benefitting from the recycling. I was wondering if you could help in defining how can other organizations pick up recyclables and get benefitted for their efforts?like what kind of system would be required? Would it be through a community pickup area? How much incentive transfer can make the value of material worth/visible to everyone?

I agree that recycling efforts should be distributed across all vendors - including smaller vendors. How can we make the systems like these beneficial for smaller vendors who do not have enough incentives and money to install Mr. Recycle? One model that I can think of is a recycling co-op model ( like AMUL in India - a co-op for milk, which was able to grow this model to become largest dairy in India What other models/incentives/system you think might work?

Thanks again. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Photo of Paul Reader

Hi Shimolee thanks for adding me to your team.

Historically, in my experience, the recycling of bottles for return of deposit would be done by:
a) purchasers themselves;
b) the local neighbourhood;
c) youth organisations such as Scouts/Guides or perhaps older community groups like Rotary, Jaycees, Lions etc.; or
d) Local charitable organisations and co-ops.
The incentive in most of these cases was the monetary return, albeit small, but nevertheless significant together with the knowledge that the resource (bottles) had a greater value as part of an almost closed system i.e. an intact bottle washed and refilled was a much cheaper resource than a newly manufactured bottle.
Unfortunately most methods of creating the necessary value are legislative but your example of Amul provides some clues to alternatives.
Since Coca-Cola has sponsored this challenge which, although good in itself is far less than they could be contributing if they chose to modify their business model, let us look at cola and/or bottled water. In both these cases thye raw material input cost to the product is diminishingly small, additional input costs include manufacture/treatment of the product to be consumed, purchase/manufacturing cost of packaging eg. bottles, cans and cartons, cost of filling and packing containers, transportation in and out, marketing, advertising and selling. Any increase in these costs will either add to consumer price or diminish profit, hence the resistance to voluntary deposit schemes. There is an opportunity to introduce EOL value for the packaging in some of these areas: for example imposing or increasing a licence to trade in the commodity.. Such licences are typically imposed at either local or regional levels which often corresponds to the point where EOL value is returned to the consumer. A deposit system is more transparent and hence more easily tied to the recycling process in the mind of the consumer.
On the other side of the equation it is possible to consider consumer pressure on the vendors to utilise recycled materials. Mike Biddle suggests his "mining" approach provides raw manufacturing material to the plastics industry at a lesser cost than utilising fossil fuels. Companies like Coke countermand this by developing "so-called" green processes utilising plant residue as raw material. I don't know how this compares in cost of production but it does nothing to address the environmental impact of not recycling the resultant practice. It does give us a yardstick by which to measure holistic environmental impact on a scale of green to red we might see such developments as orange, with fossil fuel usage being red and 100% recycled material being green. As fossil fuels price themselves out of the market the real battle will be between utilising 'renewable' materials such as plant residue and recyclable materials like pre-existing EOL packaging.
Brands like Coke are able to charge a premium by trading on the brand name, Now that recycling can begin to compete with fossil fuels competitors to Coke can begin to make recycled packaging a marketing 'point of difference'. This too can provide value to EOL material.
It is now a matter of developing a range of models that can make some use of the long-term sustainability of recycling.
Your Mr Recycle becomes one such sytem and any systems that are developed will need to be funded from a range of sources, but principally the community at large.
Sorry for the long winded reply to this point.

You asked would community pick-up areas be a collection method. In short yes! However can you envisage, for instance, Mr Recycle becoming the collecting mechanism for Nancy Kelly's RecyCream Trucks ( [Updated June 2] Recy'Cream Trucks ). You could have static collection points too but the mobility her idea provides could be advantageous. Your static points could become hubs for RecyCream truck activity. WalMart could still make a contribution with their trucks at end-of-run (i.e. empty) being used to bring compressed recycling to sorting/mining points near their resupply points.

How can other vendors become involved, Mr Recycle sites and the RecyCream trucks could provide advertising of the vendors at a nominal affordable price (utilising single size only). Vendors, although unable to afford the cost of a Mr Recycle site could be permitted to utilise Mr Recycle and RecyCream trademarks in their self promotion. Each community will know how this would work best.

I think the co-op model is well suited to this but those with more experience in that area will know better than me. I'm sure other models could emerge from making a more thorough study of the process, market and community involved.

Photo of Paul Reader

Various apps have made their way into the top 25, some of which propose a database of collection. Your Mr Recycle could provide the mechanism for measuring that collection and providing input data. Additionally, as you propsed, recyclers could see the energy value of their actual recycling, the combined efforts of their local community, of the Mr Recycle 'network' and the database as a whole.

I haven't yet had time to look at the integration points of all 25 concepts but I'm sure you will be able to see synergies between Mr Recycle and other concepts in the challenge, probably many that I would never think of.

Photo of Guy Viner

Paul- thanks for generously sharing your insights! Great to have you on board.

Photo of Shimolee Nahar

@ Paul - Thanks so much for sharing!! Great connections between the truck idea and mr. recycle.
Extracting value at the end of life is a great idea. Another approach could be extending the life of the "waste" packaging. In developing countries, with scarcer resources, people inhenrently try to do that with modifying materials for innovative uses. Looks like coca cola has leveraged this to make another "Product".

I assume this product is for developing market. I wonder, if this can play out for rich and developed countries.

Photo of Paul Reader

Thanks for the feedback and patience with my verbosity.

Photo of Guy Viner

@Paul- your verbosity is great!! Glad you're lending your expertise to help us refine this idea.

Photo of Shimolee Nahar

I agree agree agree :) its much appreciated.

Photo of Paul Reader

I have yet to hear about my latest suggestions on Nancy's RecyCream trucks, which may become some trucks and some cycles (tri and bi). Originally I had thought the recycling part might be built into the van but now I think it might be better as a powered trailer. There might be advantages to this in making it tow-able for promotion and trial purposes.
Where I live we now have an established recycling service provided by the municipal council who are also responsible for collecting the general rubbish. I don't know how it will work in other places but I pay council rates on my property so when I pay those I am paying for the service. The service itself is provided by a private company contracted to the council.

Photo of Elisa Joia

Hi Shimolee
Thanks for adding me to the team. It looks like moving away from the walmart model would change your options for logistics and make it more difficult to create a new "points" incentive. Logistics could maybe rely on existing system, but it depends strongly on location. Did you have a location in mind?

One thing i was thinking was on really how to "shape" the behaviour so that bringing it back is not such a burden? I had a few thought starters but feel free to dismiss them if they dont make that much sense:
- how about starting small and doing this just for bottle and cans? Its easier to store and carry around
- how about creating some sort of cool smart storage that can easily be taken back to walmart? Even better, what if this storage could be sold at walmart?

Photo of Paul Reader

Interesting thoughts Elisa.
Would the ReImagine Bag do double duty for returning small quantities to Mr Recycle centres?

Photo of Hermione Taylor

Hi Shimolee,

Great idea, I like where you're going with it.

I wonder if you could create some kind of liner for the bag to take your empty recycling back in that has a liner, so that you could remove it and then it doubles up as a re-usable shopping bag. This way people would also be far less likely to forget to take their reusable back to the shop with them! But I suspect people would want a liner - you wouldn't want to put your fresh salad in what had just been your rubbish bag!

Photo of Guy Viner

Hi Elisa- I think both your points are great builds for this idea. Love the idea of starting small for the sake of a prototype, experimenting, and gradually scaling to accept other recyclables!

Photo of Paul Reader

Hi Hermione
Like your idea of a bag (? ReImagine bag) with a liner
The liner could be made of strong recycled paper added to the recycling and replaced by the shop at the checkout.

Photo of Paul Reader

Small scale to start is sensible.
As far as prototyping is concerned since this is effectively a checkout in reverse it would probably be possible to press surplus or outdated checkout equipment into service.

Photo of Shimolee Nahar

Elisa - great ideas. Getting users to change their behavior and remembering to carry recyclables is an important step. In addition to your novel ideasI was thinking having a reminder service could also be helpful. Other interventions could be some way of compressing the container bcoz thy get bulky if stored for over a week or more. It could be coca cola who designs for recyclability ( having a foldable/easy to compress bottle).

Hermione and Paul - nice builts. I love the idea of liner exchange for recycling. We could also give it away free, if retailers can use it for advertising.

Photo of Paul Reader

Yes advertising would probably have some benefits for retailers.
On 1st April this year the light-weight plastic bags we used to use for groceries have been banned here so for some time the supermarkets have had a range of reusable alternatives printed with their logos.
I did envisage them as provided free and advertising might say something like XYZ Company partners with Mr Recycle to Save Waste, Save Energy and Save the Environment..

Fascinating suggestion for a folding bottle. We have cardboard milk containers that can be folded so that about 5 folded fit inside one open but they become too heavy for recycling lines. Talking of processes and space looking at these videos of MRFs (Materials Recovery Facilities) recently gave me a good idea of what actually happens to my mixed recycling - about 6 mins -
( ) and this one which at about 3 mins might be suitable for screening through the Mr Recycle terminals while not in use ( )

Photo of Paul Reader

Looking at some of the other MRF's there are sometimes preferences for non-flattened bottles and cans so i guess it is necessary to know not only where the nearest recycling centre for collection is but the process it will go through after collection/drop-off.
This one has an animated aluminium can narrator ( ) some of the other videos are worthwhile watching too.

Photo of OpenIDEO

Way to go Shimolee and team with this awesome Top 25 idea! We were really impressed by your thorough visualisation of the user journey through your incentivising system, as well as how it might work on the back-end. We also dig how well you’ve thought out both the social, economic and environmental benefits of the Mr Recycle Service model. As you get involved in Refinement, think about how you might test a light-version of the idea, or even parts of it. We’re especially interested in the front-end experience of Mr Recycle and we’d be curious to see how your experiment in the school cafeteria goes. Keep up the good work, and make sure you document both the event and your learnings – we can’t wait to follow the development of this idea! There are a couple of folks in here working on similar ideas and we’d encourage you to reach out to see if they’d be up for collaborating, for example Recycling Loyalty Card and Merchant Influencer. For more tips for this Refinement phase, check out and catch our Lowdown on Refinement at

Photo of Shimolee Nahar

Thanks a lot! We will be testing it out next week and will be able to post the results. I am also looking forward to see how it goes. Thanks again.

Photo of Kafin Noe'man

Really nice idea and very well presentation.
I guess it has all the requirements for a good innovation, which are : desirable, viable. and feasible.

Photo of Shimolee Nahar

Thanks Kafin!