Three Key Stage 3 students recently competed in the FOBISIA Junior Coding Competition, winning Best Overall Project and Best Community Impact for their project “Eco-Earn”. The inspiration for this project was taken from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly numbers 11 and 12, which focus on sustainable cities and communities and responsible consumption and production, respectively. These two goals pose a primary issue: high amounts of waste material and trash on the streets. The students were interested in how to address this issue by considering how recycling bins could be improved.
Taking the community as a case study, our students noticed that people often throw their waste into the wrong bin, which essentially rendered the bin labels pointless. There is also a lack of motivation to recycle. These factors led to the idea to create a recycling bin that could dispense a monetary reward for a specific amount of waste deposited. This would not only create an incentive but would also provide an opportunity for those who do not have access to their daily needs to earn some small financial support. A problem still remained, however; how to sort out different categories of waste, such as plastics or metals? Our students determined that a sensor could help to sort this out.
They decided upon a simple design – using a shutter lid, people can place their waste materials on the bin and the sensors would work to determine the weight and category. If the waste could not be accepted by the bin, a message could be displayed. If the waste is accepted, a signal would be sent to the cash dispenser and the monetary amount determined by the weight and category of waste would be distributed to the person. The company managing the bins could then sell the waste received to recycling companies and use the finances earned to return to the community. Imagine – clean roads, no trash floating in the oceans… our world would be a much healthier place!
Adapted from a submission by the competing students.