With the average person generating more than four pounds of trash every single day, keeping track of how to properly dispose of all the different kinds of waste can seem like an impossible task.
This issue is what brought the city of Flagstaff, AZ, to roll out a new app called “my-waste,” which provides residents with answers to a multitude of recycling and waste disposal questions, according to the Arizona Daily Sun.
The key feature is a search tool that allows users to type in any sort of object or material to determine whether it can be recycled, or what the best alternative method for disposing of it is.
The smartphone app also provides locations for disposing of hazardous materials, information about recycling incentive programs for large appliances like stoves and refrigerators, as well as notifications about free workshops where residents can receive help repairing electronics and other items.
As an added bonus, my-waste also offers suggestions for ways to reuse items like water bottles, rather than disposing of them after a single use.
“While recycling is great in a lot of ways, the ultimate goal is to get people to prevent waste in the first place,” said McKenzie Jones, a sustainability specialist with the city.
The city’s main goal is to make the recycling process easier for people to use. By providing customized calendars of recycling and trash pickup days, the hope is that people will be more willing to make an effort at proper waste management.
“We are trying to make it less frustrating for people, to make sure city resources are accessible and people understand how to get the answer,” Jones continued. “To be able to just look something up at 11 o’clock at night and find it easily is nice.”
As of now, about 2,500 Flagstaff residents have downloaded the app, and it is being utilized by 550 different municipalities.
While Flagstaff’s app is a huge step forward in using technology to raise awareness about proper waste disposal, they are not the only ones working to educate people about recycling.
Earth 911 reports that the Sims Municipal Recycling Center in Brooklyn, NY, started their Recycling Education Center (REC) to teach children and adults about recycling, using interactive exhibits, educational videos, and activities mimicking the recycling process.
It’s not uncommon for recycling and waste management facilities to offer tours, but the REC program delves deep into the definition of recycling.
The REC receives about 7,000 student visitors from all five boroughs of New York each year.
During their visit, students can hand-crank mock conveyor belts to see how magnets help separate different recyclable materials, learn about different careers in the industry, and learn which items can and should be recycled.
While the majority of visitors are students, adults have also shown much interest in the program. Educational tours at the REC continue to fill up quickly.