Recycle Month: Creating Incentive for recycling


Before looking at my Catalyst Conference project, please take a moment to fill out my survey:

Some of my classmates filled out this survey before I published the project. This was part of my research to see if my ideas would be successful. Here are their responses:

On a scale of 1-10 (1 being really bad and 10 being really good) how good of a recycler are you?

Lizzie: 7

Anya: 7

Cameron: 6

Kevin: 8

What are the most common reasons for you not to recycle something?

Lizzie: I don’t know where it goes and there is not a nearby bin

Cameron: I feel like it’s too damaged/dirty to recycle

Anya: When there is not a recycling bin nearby

Kevin: When I’m not sure whether it’s recyclable!

If there was an event at your school that encouraged you to recycle for various prizes you would partake? Would this motivate you to become a better recycler?

Lizzie: I guess so

Cameron: If it was at school I would think it was annoying but I would still participate

Anya: Yes and it would also spread more information about recycling

Kevin: I’d probably partake, and I think it would generally help people at least be conscious and think about it before they throw something in the trash.

If this event involved an app that you had to download in order to claim points and post pictures of you recycling, would you download it? Why or why not?

Lizzie: Yeah, because I like points

Cameron: Yea! Because that sounds fun

Anya: Yes because competition

Kevin: Heck yes apps are cool.

What is your opinion surrounding recycling? Do you have anything else to say If you have nothing to say you can leave this blank.

Lizzie: We need to recycle so our planet doesn’t die faster than it already is

Anya: I don’t want to hurt the turtles.

Cameron: We’re already too deep in the plastic hole

Kevin: I’m no scientist but it can’t hurt if we reuse stuff instead of never using it again I think

How do your responses compare to my classmates? I encourage you to comment below!

Problem Identification:

People around the world recycle too little and waste too much. The lack of awareness for climate change and global warming along with other environmental impacts that humans have on the natural world is a huge problem. After doing some research, it’s clear that it is everyone’s duty to recycle their plastic.

After spending some time doing research and reading lots of articles I have come to the conclusion the recycling and dealing with the plastic issue is one of the most important problems that we face globally today. I’ve found that there are an abundance of articles that talk about WHY we should recycle. They give lots of fascinating facts about how much plastic we use and how little of it is in fact recycled. I found it harder to find though, articles that talk about what the real issue is… why do people not recycle? What is the psychology/ sociology behind it? I found one really good Huffington Post article that explained that recycling isn’t accessible enough. They showed statistics from surveys and interviews with different psychology professors. Essentially there are three big issues: 1. It’s not accessible enough, drop off spots aren’t clearly marked or don’t exist. There isn’t any reward that is felt by the individual from recycling. 2. It’s confusing. Knowing what to recycling where and when can be difficult, and recycling bins don’t always clearly show what you can or can’t put in them. 3. People believe it doesn’t make a difference. To some degree this is true. Whether one person does or doesn’t recycle wont change things drastically. However individual participation is the only way the we will ever be able to solve the recycling problem.


A third of plastic products ends up in the ocean, on beaches, and in the mouths and stomachs of wildlife.

That means 8 million metric tons per year or 5 bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world. Here it can harm animals with toxins and take thousands of years to degrade.

The World Economic Forum released a report in 2016 that said that more than 70 percent of plastics are put in a landfills or lost to the world’s waterways.

Plastic production accounts for 6 percent of global oil consumption (a number that will hit 20 percent in 2050) and

1 percent of the global carbon budget (the maximum amount of emissions the world can produce to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius).

In 2050 we’ll be spending 15 percent of our carbon budget on soda bottles and plastic grocery bags. Plastics in the ocean will outweigh fish pound for pound in 2050.

Only 23% of plastic water bottles are recycled in America each year, that’s 38 million bottles wasted each year.

Worldwide, only 9% of plastic is recycled, and every minute, 1 million plastic water bottles are bought by consumers.

Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year

A study by Plymouth University found that one-third of all fish caught in the UK contained tiny pieces of plastic.P

User Needs:

I believe the biggest reason of the three outlined by the Huffington Post is inconvenience and lack of incentive. Most people have a big blue recycling bin at home that gets picked up just like the trash bin. However when you’re out in public there are overwhelmingly few recycling bins. If there were simply more places to recycle plastic, many people would do so. If we could create incentive using social media, recycling would become much more popular.

My sketches and Ideation:

My Pitch:

Final Product and Reflection:

Recycling Bin that I designed for Recycle Month

Here is a prototype for the app that would create incentive to recycle! It’s called RecycleMonth. It works similarly to Instagram; essentially, students take pictures of them recycling and post it for their peers to see. By adding a location stamp to the post, students can keep track of how many unique recycling bins they’ve used. The app is interactive, so I encourage you to try to press some buttons and explore the different pages. As this is just a prototype, don’t expect everything to work perfectly. However, I hope this gives you a sense of how the app would work if I could fully program it.

This is the app icon that would appear on your home screen. By tapping it, you would open the app.

If you found the profile page, you’ll see that I have two posts and two recycling bins used. My goal is that students would compete to see who can have the most posts and use all of the recycling bins on their campus. At the end of the RecycleMonth, the individual and grade who recycled the most would receive some prize from their school.

Thank you for viewing my project page! I hope you’ll go back up to the survey you filled up at the very begging to see if your responses changed at all. If you have any feedback I’d love to see it in the comments section.

Works cited

Davar, Zoheb. “Here’s Your Guide to How Recycling Actually Works.” Medium, Cleantech Rising, 13 Apr. 2017,

Kaplan, Sarah. “By 2050, There Will Be More Plastic than Fish in the World’s Oceans, Study Says.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 20 Jan. 2016,

Lake, Rebecca. “What Items Can’t Be Recycled?” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group,

Nace, Trevor. “We’re Now At A Million Plastic Bottles Per Minute – 91% Of Which Are Not Recycled.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 28 July 2017,

Schumaker, Erin. “This Is Why You Have So Much Trouble Recycling.” LIFE, HuffPost, 3 Aug. 2016,

Share this project
  1. April 25, 2019 by Jill Brown

    I like your idea of the app to make it more fun and the graphics and bin you created are very appealing! Great project, Yannick! – Dr. Brown

  2. April 29, 2019 by Nicolas.Ignaszewski

    Wow, great work on this project! Clearly something has to be done to address this horrible issue that has horrible consequences. I think your proposed solution would be a great start to combatting this problem rooted deeply in our society’s norms.

  3. May 19, 2019 by Ami.Adachi

    Hi Yannick! I thin it’s really amazing that you programmed your own app and it’s even better that the purpose is to create incentive for recycling! I am also an advocate for environmental preservation, so it’s nice to see others dedicate their projects towards different ways to preserve our precious environment. I think it’s very useful that you sent out a survey to your classmates because you can use their opinions to make changes to your app and see what many students’ perspective on recycling is. However, have you thought of any other methods that would be effective in creating incentive for recycling other than the app you made?

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