According to CalRecycle, about 24.5 billion California Refund Value (CRV) eligible containers were sold in 2018. Of those bottles, 18.5 billion were recycled. Leaving 6 billion of them in landfills, since nobody claimed CRV. Six billion bottles equate to over 100 million dollars that could have been exchanged for money with the CRV. With ailments such as COVID-19, our country could implement the extra revenue in beneficial ways. With the money raised from CRV, we can fund non-profits who intend on relieving communities and suffering families that are in pure devastation due to COVID-19. Plastic waste and COVID-19 are both prevalent problems that our world must conquer. From a survey we conducted, we found that 23 out of 50 people recycle bottles, and 41 out of 50 people did not know that their bottles could be exchanged for money.
What it does
reBottle is a free app that connects people interested in recycling bottles with volunteers seeking service hours and donates funds raised from recycling to COVID-19 relief efforts. reBottle works in three parts 1) Allows patrons (people interested in donating CRV eligible bottles) to donate their bottles on specific dates right from their doorstep
2) Provides volunteers a way to earn service hours by picking up these bottles and dropping them off in a reBottle bin at the nearest recycling center.
3) Raises funds for COVID-19 relief efforts by exchanging recyclable bottles for CA CRV.
How we built it
Challenges we ran into
On the app design side, we started working on a way to make recycling easier and at scale. There were already many apps in the market that did this locally. We spent more time brainstorming what we could do differently. That's when the concept of volunteering, recycling and raising funds in one app emerged as an idea.
On the technical side, we had two challenges - 1) Using a UI toolkit like CreativeTim but still making it work the way we wanted and 2) Using Google Maps and Google distance API. This was our first time using these APIs. We got the Maps API to work but could not figure out how to use the distance API.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud of developing a web solution that provides an easier way for people to recycle, raise funds for a global cause and enable volunteers to earn service hours.We are proud of creating a website in little time that helps raise funds for COVID-19 alongside mock ups for our future mobile app. In less than 3 days we were able to research extensively on recycling plastic, conduct a survey to validate our solution, develop a website and mockups for our app.
What we learned
Our biggest learning was how to design a website/mobile app for different set of users, like in our case - volunteers and patrons. We learnt a lot about recycling plastic and realized even CA CRV provides cash refund, people are not fully aware of how to make use of it. Using Google Maps API was very interesting. Overall, we learnt how to split our work and get it done in a remote setup.
What's next for reBottle
We plan to build up on our idea further by expanding it to all states in the US. Currently, our idea to raise funds for COVID-19 but we want to help other global relief efforts as well. Within the new few weeks, we plan to complete our website, fully build our mobile app and connect with multiple non-profits.