Update 20 June:
- new sketches showing how the app will function (see images above and attached PDF).
- how to collect information required for app to function (including via outreach to companies, community organisaitons, councils and invidual recycling warriors).
- increasing rewards - incentivising users to recycle
- keeping users up to date with changes
Update 21 May:
- finding easy ways for the user to input packaging materials
- showing where you can recycle
- making the app more engaging
UPDATE- 20 JUNE
Collecting up to date recycling information
One of the largest barriers to implimentation is the need to access accurate local recycling information. I think we can overcome these challenges in a number of ways:
- Reaching out to local councils / recycling centers so that they provide the appropriate local recycling knowledge. Recycling centers and councils spend an enormous amount of energy and resources sending waste to landfill sites and sorting out incorrectly disposed recyclable materials. Reach out to councils and recycling process plants to provide local recycling information. We would also need an automatic review system / trigger to ensure that councils / recycling centers notify us when recycling procedures change in a local area.
- Reaching out to local organisations and companies who accept recyclable materials and asking them to upload their recycling information. In Australia, a number of local organisations (like opportunity / charity / thrift stores) accept a range of used goods. A number of retailers will also recycle e-waste on your behalf (for instance, Harvey Norman accepts old tv's and Officeworks accepts old computers).
- Reaching out to individual recycling warriors - superstar recyclers who are in our community - to (1) update recycling information; (2) updating materials that the app doesn't cover; (3) updating the app with creative ways the materials could be recycled (eg: links to Pintrest upcylce pages as per Suzie's great suggestion below). These individual recycling warriors could be incentivised through a similar ratings / star system as Amazon / Yelp reviewers.
- Community organisaitons, companies and the council will be able to update information via a web portal.
Most of these inputs require the app to have a critical mass to provide the incentives to volunteer information. Until then, we will need to source this informaiton and update manually.
Path towards gaining critical mass
- Start locally - pick one area that has a large enough population to support the app (Paul Bearman has done this masterfully with http://www.recycleopedia.info/, Timmy has also shown via https://openideo.com/challenge/recycle-challenge/ideas/the-e-waste-race-a-race-between-schools-to-collect-as-much-e-waste-as-possible that this could work really well in the Netherlands.) Build local support for the app then if it starts to gain traction, you can slowly step it out across a wider geographic area.
Incentivising people to recycle
- With information ... So far I've focused on arming people with a bit of knoweldge about what a piece of recycled material can become and the impact that recycling has (eg: a piece of plastic can become a sleeping bag / recycling this bottle will save this amount of energy). This is pretty similar to Kennith Watson's great idea over here: https://openideo.com/challenge/recycle-challenge/refinement/from-this-to-this-an-app-that-reveals-possibilities and Goder's fantastic idea over here: https://openideo.com/challenge/recycle-challenge/refinement/recyculator-because-recycling-is-a-numbers-game).
- with a bit of fun and humour: The app can also use push notifications to humorously encourage you to engage with recycling a bit more - eg: if it notices that you haven't used the app for a while, it could send you fun facts about products that you probably didn't know could be recycled. Shane Zhao had a great interactive idea on how to increase engagement over here: https://openideo.com/challenge/recycle-challenge/ideas/recycleminder-a-refreshing-way-to-think-about-recycling.
- with free stuff from the people whose products you are recycling ... Given that we will be able to tell whose items are being recycled where data is input via the barcode (we're going to know that it's a 1.25 LT Coke can) - the app could also send out promotions to the person who has the app. Eg: Coke could start a promotion that for every 10 coke bottles recycled, coke will give you a voucher for one free coke. Coke could also provide incentives to get friends using the app - eg: the more friends you sign up and who actually use the app, the more free stuff you get. "Free stuff" could also inlcude rewards that consumers cannot ordinarily buy, like VIP festival tickets or even coke cans with your name on it (http://www.ogilvy.com.au/the-work/share-a-coke).
The app will send the user push notificiations indicating when local recycling laws change in their area so that the user can adjust their behaviour.
UPDATE; 21 MAY
I have updated a couple of features of the app:
A. Finding easy ways for the user to input packaging materials
I've come up with three possible solutions to enable users to easily tell the app what packaging material they are trying to recycle.
- (1) a barcode links up to supplier data to extract packaging material information;
- PROS: relatively easy to use - fewer steps for the user - universality if we can link barcodes with packaging material
- CONS: barcodes are too narrow for a smart phone to read / packaging without a barcode - difficulty linking barcode with packaging data, how do we get suppliers on board? Shoudl this come from a national supermarket who has the power to insist on this?
- (2) the user inputs the data by chosing a product family (glass, plastics, paper, fabric etc), the app then prompts the user to narrow down their choice (eg: type 4 plastic, waxed cardboard etc) -this is similar to a program in France.
- PROS: Relatively easy for the user to input data (so long as the information is structured in a user friendly way)
- (3) the user types in the product name (eg: 375 mm coke can) and the app links this with packaging material or the user inputs the packaging type (eg: aluminium can).
- PROS: could be really accurate (like the barcode)
- CONS: Requires good autofill results - including mispellings etc; requires a lot of data; requires a lot of user effort.
While a QR code would work technologically, getting that much lable space across every singe recyclable products isn't particularly feasible.
B. Showing you where you can recycle
Showing people where they can recycle certain items. So ... I quickly realised that some people don't have recycling bins. There are also a host of things that generally can't be recycled with domestic pick ups (appliances, batteries, clothing etc) - so I've included a feature that tells people where their closest Recycling point for that particular material is.
C. Super engaging
I'm also really aware that this app really needs to engage people through its visuals and tone of voice if it is going to change the hearts and minds of people. I've included lines like " Thanks for recyling that paper label. When it grows up, it wants to become a comfy chair. It doesn't fancy becoming a loo roll."
You could also have an option to chose your tone of voice - similar to Google's Art, Copy and Code " Talking Shoe"
I really like Shane Zhao's use of recycled movie quotes in push notifications to remind people to recycle over at his Recycleminder idea (" Life is like a recycling, you never know what you're going to get."Recycled from Forrest Gump)
Any help with forging an engageing tone of voice and visuals would be greatly appreciated.
Recycling can be really confusing. It shouldn't be. This complexity makes behavioural change really difficult.
It is often unclear how you should recycle composite and mixed materials. People get confused about how to recycle different types of plastic. Different suburbs often have completely different recycling rules. This leads to frustration and poor recycling habits.
IDEA: An app to help people work out how to recycle packaging in their local area
This app aims to give people a clear answer on how to recycle different packaging goods in their local area.
In a few easy steps, users will be armed with recycling knowledge:
(1) Scan the product's barcode
(2) Confirm your postcode
(3) The app will tell you how to recycle the product's different packaging materials in your local area.
Arming people with knowledge
The app aims to arm people with the knowledge they need to recycle well. You go to it when you are confused or confronted with a new product (eg: you're confused about how to recycle the various components of a readymeal).
Although this information is generally available on council or waste management websites, it is usually burried in a labryinth of dead links and confusing language. This app aims to make this relevant information clear and easily accessible.
When your council changes their recycling rules, the app can send you push notifications to alert you. Equally, when you move areas, the app could send you notifications about the key differences in recycling rules.
Easy to use and a little bit joyful
To ensure usefullness, the app needs to be really easy to use and minimise the steps (and time) needed to find information.
Given that recycling is pretty mundane and unpersonable, the app needs to engage people. Microinteractions / interface etc. could be a bit joyful / quirky / personable to engage users.
This app would rely on linking information about a product's packaging materials with its barcode (alternatively, companies could use a QR code).
The app would also rely on getting area specific recycling rules from councils. I'm not sure whether this can easily be mined from council websites or whether councils would have to submit information.
If you have any thoughts about how to improve this idea, please comment below. I'd really appreciate the input.