Simplify the recycling of unusual materials via mobile drop-off centers
While sharing a concern about environmental sustainability, we started off working on designing a solution to make it easier for the general public to recycle in their daily life.
The Easy Recycle mobile drop-off center provides an easier, educational, and joyful social experience for neighbors and communities who don’t have a convenient way to visit drop off centers to recycle unusual wastes.
Feb 2019 - May 2019
How to deal with these unusual waste?
One of our team members Wei has a recycling box including items she knows which can be recycled but she didn't know how to deal with them. The same situation happened to many other people.
We started to think, "Why is recycling unusual waste difficult to people?"
What made recycling unusual waste difficult?
Lack of knowledge
People don’t know how to properly dispose of unusual waste.
Recycling centers in the city are not very accessible unless you have time and a car.
People don’t always want to commit time to deal with waste.
Lack of time commitment
Problem Deep Dive
Properly disposing of the unusual waste is difficult.
They cannot be properly disposed of at home and
must instead be taken to drop-off locations, and people do not do that.
They do not want to put in the time and effort to do that.
Drop-off locations can often be far, and it is much easier to simply throw things in the trash.
People do not understand recycling’s benefits and wastes' influences.
How might we make it easier to recycle unusual waste and improve people’s awareness of recycling?
Field visit and subject matter expert interview
We visited the only governmental drop-off center at Austin -- Austin Recycling Recovery and a private drop-off center Green Guy Recycling to learn about the operation of recycling facilities and interview experts to learn from their perspective.
It is hard but necessary to change the culture
Start with small steps to Influence people, “Start locally, think globally.”
Applied different strategies to each community
Improving infrastructure is a big need
Austin Resources Recycling has limited space capability to handle large quantities of people, but they have a very limited budget
Space is confusing to navigate.
The current location is not very convenient for many residents
A need to improve educational resources
Improve outreach and advertising for recycling information
Contamination in recyclable materials made recycling harder
Interrupt and Contextual interview
We interviewed people coming to the drop-off centers during our field visit and went to more people's places to learn their recycling habits, perspectives, and knowledge.
What people said...
Putting them in the corner is easier than dropping off at the recycling center.
But it’s annoying. I think they’ll be there forever...
I know I should recycle...but I don’t know how can I do it here, and also I didn’t look it up.
My roommates don’t recycle, so I stopped to recycle here.
Someone should let us know to deal with them, I do not want to research it.
Synthesis and Sense-making
We mapped out the information we got from the interviews and synthesized them to find patterns.
When people are confused about recycling, they do not ask for help and ignore it.
Recycling habits influenced by schedule and personal living habits.
People think their impact is negligible.
Most people consider proper recycling time-consuming.
Drop-off centers are used exclusively by those who have cares
Some people have a habit of resuing wastes.
Active and direct recycling guides reduce people's effort.
Tangible, explicit evidence of damage to the environment motivate people to take action.
People tend to change their recycling habits to match other people around them.
People find traveling to drop-off centers inconvenient.
The inconvenience of Drop Off Center
People find going to drop-off centers inconvenient and do not tend to commit time and effort.
Needs for Educational Information
When people are confused about recycling, they don’t tend to look up information, instead, ignoring their problems.
Social Impact of Recycling is Significant
People tend to change their recycling habits to match people around them.
According to our research results, we came up with various "How might we..." statements to explore different perspective for approaching the problem, and brainstorm ideas based on them.
We decided to pursue the approach "How might we provide an easier, educational, and joyful social experience for people in neighbors and communities who don’t have a convenient way to visit drop off centers?" because it is feasible and human-centric.
How might we provide an easy, educational, and joyful social experience for people in communities who don’t have a convenient way to visit drop off centers?
We came up with some ideas during brainstorming process.
Display Images on Trash/Recycle Bins
Mobile Drop-off Centers
Eco-focused Social Network Platform
Paid+locked Recycling Bins
Display Images on Trash/Recycle Bins
After discussing these ideas, evaluating the pros and cons of each, we decided to pursue the idea of mobile drop-off centers due to it is feasible, user-centered, and capable of solving the problems we identified.
Prototyping and Iterating
We prototyped twice to test if the mobile drop-off center can achieve our design goal. This helped us gain feedbacks from people and iterate our design.
Prototype version 1
Prototype version 2
We need multiple-channel marketing
We should send earlier notifications
An outdoor drop-off booth encouraged more people to stop by.
Neighborhoods need to be screened ahead of time to better anticipate engagement.
Mobile drop-off centers have a potential to provide educational opportunities.
Estimate capacity needed beforehand.
An RSVP system will be of use.
Ensure donators’ privacy and create reusing opportunities.
For one family, they usually go to drop off around 1 or 2 times a year.
Mobile Drop-off Center
Schedule your drop-off, choose the preferred location, come to drop-off, communicate and learn.
After receiving feedback from two rounds prototyping, we came up with the final design proposal to help the Austin government solve people’s problems and challenges regarding recycling unusual materials.
The mobile drop-off centers meet the following key design principles:
Public mobile drop-off trucks across the city and stop in neighborhoods
With Recycle section and reuse store on trucks, mobile drop-off centers provide you schedule checking, location and capacity tracking.
Get notified of drop-off information
Get the schedule of recycling trucks through the website, email announcements, flyers take your unusual recycling items at your preferred location.
Give your recyclable items to the staff at the truck or drop them at the collection bin on the truck by yourself when the truck arrives at your stop.
Communication and learning
Communicate with your neighbors and gain recycling knowledge at the recycling stops.