Campus and Community

Trash4Goods: a project that protects the environment and rewards people for recycling properly

“When you recycle, we all win!” – this is the motto of Trash4Goods, an innovation project created at JUNITEC- Junior Enterprises at Instituto Superior Técnico, which uses gamification to increase recycling. The project has been developed for some time and is now entering an important phase: the pilot project. To this end, the students count on Instituto Superior Técnico and Sociedade Ponto Verde. During the coming weeks, each package placed in the Trash4Goods smart bin, located at Alameda campus (Civil Engineering building), will give access to a lot of prizes.

“This is one of the most innovative and ambitious projects of JUNITEC this year, and aims to improve recycling in Portugal!”, explains João Trindade, project manager. “After several meetings with experts and some approaches, Trash4Goods has reached its essence: a gamification system, which includes our smart bins and our application, that rewards users, thus making the recycling experience more motivating and rewarding”, he stresses.

Users earn points in Trash4Goods app every time they recycle. “The idea is that these points can be redeemed for prizes, rewards or discounts. In addition, our app has new challenges every week, which allow users to earn more points, and provides statistical information so that users can be aware of the impact on their recycling”, says João Trindade.

Both the application and the smart bin were entirely developed by JUNITEC team. “The person responsible for developing the app was Pedro Esteves, and the app design was created by Maria Amoedo. The smart bin was created by Afonso Ravasco and Tiago Lourinho”, says the Project manager.

The pilot project started on 19th October and runs until 15th November. “We want to test the concept of this project and understand what can be improved. The project can’t evolve without these tests, that’s why we believe they will be a valuable input”, stresses the Técnico student.

The Técnico community (students, professors, researchers and staff) will have the opportunity to recycle PET Plastic Bottles and Aluminum/Steel Cans in the smart bin located at Civil Engineering building – next to the Cafeteria – and earn points. Before that, it is necessary to download the application and create an account to have full access to the smart bin.

“Técnico is the right spot to run this pilot project”

João Trindade stresses “Técnico is the right spot to run this pilot project. This is the best engineering school in the country, so this was the perfect spot to place our Smart Bin”.

The team believes that the Técnico community, in particular students, will contribute to the success of this pilot project. “Environmental issues are on the agenda in every country and we feel that students are increasingly aware of this situation. In fact, our generation knows that if we don’t change our habits we will be compromising the future”, says João Trindade. “The AmbientalIST plays an important role in environmental issues”, he adds.

The students hope to expand the network of smart bins across the country. “Our major goal is to create a network large enough to meet the EU recycling targets”, says the project manager. In the shorter term, the team intends to refine the prototype, to “expand to other locations within universities and increase the number of users and partners”, he adds.

The team also intends to diversify their rewards, for example: discounts in stores, restaurants, cinemas, museums and much more. “We want that Trash4Goods app can also be used by our partners, namely to attract customers”, shares the Técnico student.