Ever been confused about which bin to put your granola bar wrapper in? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans discard 77.9 million tonnes of recyclable containers and packaging annually. Consumers want to recycle, but increasingly-complex product packaging and municipal recycling rules make it challenging. We believe in empowering consumers by giving them access to the information they need to recycle, through our easy-to-use smartphone app.

What it does makes it easy to get information on the packaging for your product, and how to recycle it. Simply scan the barcode on a product or package with your smartphone, and will provide information about the materials and city-specific information about recycling them.

How we built it is built using Android Studio with a Java backend, and a custom recycling materials database implemented in JSON / SQL.

Challenges we ran into

Integrating a barcode scanner into the app wasn't too challenging, however getting packaging information from the product code proved impossible using publicly-available databases. To overcome this, we built a custom database containing packaging and recycling information for over 1000 products by scraping and aggregating the Open Product Data barcode database and the City of Vancouver ReCollect materials database.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We're proud of learning to build an Android app from scratch with no previous experience, and creating a product that can be part of a sustainable future.

What we learned

Aside from all the technical skills, this project taught our team to be resilient and keep working at a problem until it's solved, or to step back and pivot when the solution isn't feasible.

What's next for

Recycling information for multiple cities based on location, directions to recycling depots, waste reduction tips, and many more wonderful things!

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