WeRecycle Android App for easier recycling in public spaces

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The Sustainability Problem

Encouraging recycling in outdoor public places is challenging because oftentimes it is inconvenient. Unlike indoor recycling in a home, an office or school where you are familiar with where the recycling bins are and they are relatively close to where you are, public spaces such as parks have wider spaces. You do not always know where the next recycling bin is. If you finish a bottle of water in the middle of the park and you do not know when you will encounter the next bin, will you hold on to it until you see the next bin or will you just toss it in the next bin you find – whether it is trash bin or a recycling bin? Chances are, many people will toss it in a trash bin if that is the more convenient choice.

The Technology

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WeRecycle at the University of Georgia studies the recycling behavior of people in public spaces by tracking the  number of bottles thrown at each bin. As a result of this study, they ave released an Android App that allows users to easily find out where the next recycling bins are, even offering them the option of identifying bins for paper, plastic, bottles or trash.

It facilitates communication among a community of recyclers, allowing users of the app to add bins on the map, including descriptions.

Lastly, if there are any areas where users feel are in need of bins, they can express a need for a public bin to be placed there. This data can then be easily used by government agencies to make their future plans.

The app currently enjoys are 4.2 out of 5 stars rating on app marketplace.


The Stakeholders

  • University of Georgia
  • The foundations funding the University of Georgia research
  • Users of the Android App
  • Waste management agencies in the Georgia area
  • The general public in Georgia
  • Recycling promoters and environmental nonprofits

The Process

  • Get University of Georgia students to make the initial maps of bins in certain high traffic public areas
  • Test the app in Georgia to determine strengths and weaknesses
  • Address bugs in the app
  • Share data with government agencies to see how they can leverage the data
  • Test new iterations of the app until it achieves success
  • Expand the app’s coverage beyond Georgia, possibly testing one city at a time






One thought on “WeRecycle Android App for easier recycling in public spaces

  1. Thanks for this article! I like how it uses citizen science and crowd sourcing to identify weaker areas in need of improvement. They could also look into including a clothing or electronic recycling category – categories where people may visit to dispose of old items with purpose, rather than out of convenience.


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