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Pitch

A social platform that helps motivates users to recycle more by tracking user progress with a point system, and giving reminders.


Description

Summary

CyclerApp-A mobile app that converts our recycling actions into points that are ranked against friends and communities on a social platform. This allows people to track their progress, see the collective impact generated among their friends/neighborhoods, and provides constant motivation through peer-competition. Aggregating people's small recycling actions into a larger community setting helps show the true collective impact people are having on the world and peer-pressurizes people to do more. Users will earn badges for special achievements, level up, and always know how much positive impact they have made on the world. 


Category of the action

Reducing emissions from waste management


What actions do you propose?

Recycling is something in which we all have a role to play. It’s one of the easiest ways we can contribute to protecting our environment. When it comes to recycling at home, there often seems to be a mismatch between our good intentions and our actions and in many countries around the world, less than a third of us recycle at home.

With the acceleration of climate change and increased pressure on our planet’s natural resources, the issue of environmental sustainability has never been more urgent.  
When we recycle we conserve precious natural resources that are often in finite supply. Recycling allows used materials to be converted into new products without any extra raw materials being used. It can also allow us to reuse materials again and again. 
Many organizations – including governments, NGOs and companies – are contributing by making packaging 100% recyclable, by using renewable and recycled materials and by taking a look at the entire product lifecycle, from production to reuse. There’s a part in that cycle where we all have a role to play – and that’s when we decide what happens to the waste in our homes.  The question to all of us inhabitants of the planet goes thus “how can we nudge people to incorporate better recycling habits into their daily routines at home?  How might we encourage ourselves and others to turn our good intentions into action? Can we find new ways to recycle more at home to enhance our current recycling habits and help complete that all-important closed loop cycle?

My answer to this is the Cycler App- A mobile App that converts our recycling actions into points that are ranked against friends and communities on a social platform. This allows people to track their progress, see the collective impact generated among their friends/neighborhoods, and provides constant motivation through peer-competition. Aggregating people's small recycling actions into a larger community setting helps show the true collective impact people are having on the world and peer-pressurizes people to do more. Users will earn badges for special achievements, level up, and always know how much positive impact they have made on the world.

The app has three main goals:

1.      Track the recycling progress of each individual and reward points for each good action (such as donating clothes).

2.      Put each user into a rank (competition) among their friends and communities - weekly/monthly goal targets and award badges for certain milestones.

3.      Show the collective recycling impact by aggregating data into user created groups called 'communities' that displays recycling progress in an understandable context (e.g. 1 million plastic bottles). Users can make these 'communities' public or invite-only, this works well when the 'communities' represent real-world groups such as work, family, school alumni, physical neighborhoods, clubs, etc. This works great for international companies who have offices all around the world, users can join the ‘Starbucks Community' and play a part in that company's global collective recycling effort. 

USER PERSPECTIVE:

James is like most people and doesn't really think much about the environment; with recent news he has grown increasingly worried about the sustainability of our world but really doubts that recycling at home will have any real impact. He sees friends posting their CyclerApp scores on Facebook and decides to download the app to see what the fuss is about. He joins his Facebook friend's 'community' on CyclerApp and sees that in the pass month they have collectively recycled over 3 tonnes of paper which is the equivalent of growing 51 trees! He now understands that if everyone does their small part it adds up to a huge impact - James is competitive by nature and starts to recycle religiously with CyclerApp to compete with friends and earn rewards.  

Lucas wants to recycle more and more but he's not really sure of his progress or how he compares to his friends. He hears from a mate that there's an app which tracks your progress and puts it in context with the communities around you and also rewards you at the same time. He downloads it and notices that he's actually recycling less than most of his friends by 20%! He then learns from the friends feed of how other people are recycling and picks up tips from the suggestions section - such as colour-coding his bins at home. Lucas now always has a goal of how much to recycle each month, which is to always stay above average among his friends and communities.  

Anderson is a year 10 high school student and his school has started a competition to see which year group recycles more. The winning year group not only gets bragging rights across the whole school, but they also win free-dress day passes, discount at the canteen, excursions to the local waste facilities, etc. They use CyclerApp to create 'year group communities' on the platform to track the progress and allow each student to see the scores in real-time.
 

Initial Pilot Development

Though I am based in Africa, but I have vast experience on how the international community operates having lived in Europe for a while.

 For the pilot, I will be targeting a community in Africa (let say Abuja) and in America (let say Massachusetts) in partnership with MIT Students and other volunteers to see how this works out on the two continents. To design an early, lightweight experiment, we will use app prototyping tools such as ‘Flinto’ to create interactive wireframes that user can navigate through.

In the beginning, CyclerApp will partner with 5 schools in Africa and 5 schools in America that already have focus on improving their student's awareness on sustainability and recycling. It will help by creating a custom competition program for each school and explanation material to be passed out to teachers/students. Hopefully the schools will make it mandatory for students to partake in the program. For example, it will create a 1 month competition for the High School to see which year group recycles the most while arming the teachers with information on how to recycle better to teach the students. This will enable large groups of real-life connected users (friends/schoolmates) to join the CyclerApp platform and immediately interact with each other on the network. During the month of competition the students will learn new ways to recycle and subconsciously develop habits around the home (influencing other family members).

CyclerApp’s activities such as badge achievements will be pushed onto Facebook/Twitter to further solidfy it into the social space. 

Another element to improve the CyclerApp adoption in the beginning is to partner with companies also in the fight to improve recycling, and provide rewards to the school competition programs (such as recycled plastic bottle companies providing plastic for 3D printing). An example could be sponsorship with Starbucks on providing its products as rewards for the competitions.  

After targeting schools, CyclerApp can also move towards targeting large international companies with a focus on corporate social responsibility. By aiming for large groups of related-users, it will allow for higher traction in the beginning as new users already have real-life connections on the platform (similar to Facebook's university strategy). This gives CyclerApp diversity in its user base and lower barriers to adoption as its initial users are actually encouraged by their organizations/schools to participate. 

 Further Development & Business Model

To make this Application more effective or to develop it into a sustainable business, we could create a WIN-WIN-WIN scenario by incentivizing recycling activities using an e-commerce business model. The process will be as follows:

1. We could motivate families to recycle plastic bottles, plastic sachets, aluminum cans, clothing, papers, etc through the CyclerApp-based incentive program. For every kilogram of material that families recycle with CyclerApp, they will receive redeemable points over their CyclerApp profile in return. Families can then redeem their points for goods that they value, such as cell phone minutes, basic food items, and household goods etc. Families will also receive collection reminders and rewards updates directly on their CyclerApp profile making the benefits of recycling immediate.

 (In this situation, all we can do as CyclerApp Company is to maintain a remote warehouse and also develop a fleet of low-cost cargo bicycles to offer convenient collection activities tracking families through information provided on their profile) .

2. After collection, CyclerApp could aggregate the material at the household level to sell to local recycling processors. CyclerApp remote warehouse can provide a consistent supply of well-sorted, high quality recyclable material to processors alleviating their supply constraints.

 


Who will take these actions?

My intention is to assemble an interdisciplinary team of emerging talents in the technology field to startup an organization that will be responsible for coordinating the program.


Where will these actions be taken?

The project will target both develop and developing world as we are all witnessing the consequences of green house gas emission.


What are other key benefits?

Habits often require motivation that is beyond an individual's ability to muster alone - especially for  tasks like recycling. By making recycling a social experience it not only motivates by showing the collective greater impact, it also directly encourages each person to do more through peer-pressure. By allowing users to create/join their own communities (such as a 'family group' or a 'workplace group'), they stay constantly connected to the people who matter to them - & ultimately can influence them. Badges, monthly/weekly goals, & progress trackers are all proven forms of motivation providers that all help to push the users to create those great habits at home. A great pain-point for me personally is that I don't know how much the recycling I do is helping the world, how much progress I've already made, & how much am I doing compared to other people. This social platform aims to aggregate this data at a large scale to show people there are differences being made every single day.

 


How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

This I believe will greatly help however measuring impact will be based on data generated from the use of the App as time progresses.


What are the proposal’s costs?

I anticipate $20,000 for the pilot project. If we are able to prove that the project has achieved great impact within first 12 month, then we will seek for $100,000 to scale the project. This i believe wont be a problem once the impact is prooved.


Time line

January-December 2015- Pilot program

2016- Scale up


Related proposals

n/a


References

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