App or Website to Verify Local Recyclability
Not knowing if a particular item - for instance number 7 plastic - can be recycled in a particular location keeps people from participating. A location-aware app (think geo-fencing) or website with locale searching could guide consumers on the availability of recycling for the different materials in the city or county in which they are currently standing.
Explain your idea in one sentence
The "Can I Recycle It?" app tells you if the container you're holding can be recycled in the town that you're standing in, right now, whether you're at home or visiting.
An app or website, with connections to data--in all locations that are possible!--so that consumers can know definitively if the item they wish to recycle will be properly recycled "here" or if it will only junk up the recycling stream.
So many plastics . . . am I helping, or hurting by putting this one in the recycling bin here?
It will work best when there is wide coverage, but like apps that show local public transit information, it can start locally and grow.
Describe how your idea would help form new habits and improve recycling at home
Even though, or perhaps because I'm in a big city, I'm never completely sure if certain kinds of materials (especially the plastics) are going to be recycled properly. This app or website would contain information on recycling capabilities by locale (city, county, etc). By simply using my current location (ZIP or postal code, geo-location, location by cell phone tower etc.) and entering the type of material I am wondering about, the app could tell me "recycle it" or "trash it." People using the app would be more comfortable that they are doing the right thing: recycling materials that are acceptable, not dumping non-recyclables into the recycling stream.
How might you design an early, lightweight experiment to further develop your idea?
An app could be rolled out easily in a small location to start with.
The concept could be tested in low-tech formats - printed materials for just a single area. And users/potential users could be interviewed to confirm the validity of the idea.
What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input of our OpenIDEO community?
Knowing if there are APIs for local recycling programs which could be connected to by the app.
Ideating on ways to make geo-fenced information seem less spying-on-you-creepy and more helpful.