Credit by Shen Comix

Credit by Shen Comix

The Problem

How many time have we turned to google to search where to recycle something or is something recyclable? How many times have we had a conversation or disagreement over if we recycle the right way? Yes, there is a wrong and right way to recycle. The U.S. manages residential recycling primarily via single-stream curbside collection. Therefore, if we recycle wrong such as placing the wrong items in the recycle bin, it’s equal or worse than not recycling at all. In addition, not all neighborhoods and apartments offer recycle curbside pick-up and recycle bins. Thus, even if we can sort the items into proper recycle categories, we often don’t know where to go to drop off the recyclables.


  • Provide information about recycling and its impact.   

  • Identify solution to match local disposal location, facility, or business with corresponding items. 

  • Help users to identify which item can and cannot be recycled. 

Phase 1 - Empathize

Competitive Analysis


Competitor Research Findings 

According to the analysis, we find out that we don’t have as many direct competitors in the mobile app platform. Most of the apps are local specifically and restricted access to features and app usage to a certain limit such as WasteManagement, RecycleCoach, and VanCollect. 

WasteManagement app mostly works with email and address that have registered accounts in the company service. It won’t let users access the app without filling in the corresponding address. The same goes with RecycleCoach, many features of the app will not work if users are not in the registered cities. The same problem goes with VanCollect which is for Vancouver. In order to use the app, we put in a random address in Vancouver. VanCollect has a game to categorize recyclable items recycle item which is a good idea, except that the game doesn’t work. 

RecycleAcademy has a never-ending slide of recycling materials and which recycle bin type they belong to. Because this app is used mostly in Europe, the systems of symbols and recycling method in the app don’t work in the U.S. However, the app has a simple, clean, and sleek look that we can learn from.

RecycleNation doesn’t require an account. This app has facts about recycling and a recycling record to show the user impact based upon what they recycled. This is a cool and interesting feature though the calculation and information input are inconvenient. For example, in the recycle log record, weight is the only option for quantity input. Material name and weight, which limits itself to being measured only in US pounds, are how the impact is calculated. It would be better if they have a system of choice for the quantity unit because no one actually weights their recycle items. RecycleNation has a search system for disposal location but it only works with the default set category list and recyclable items. If users search an item that somehow is not in the list, the search engine won’t function.  

To set us apart from the others, GoRecycle will focus on providing users with drop-locations for recyclable items and help users identifying which item is recyclable. GoRecycle will be an information app without the need for account registration.

Phase 2 - Define

User Research and Survey

Interview Question

Using Lean Survey Canvas, we set up online survey and face to face interview to understand what we need to learn, who we need to ask, what we already know, and how to reach our users. Some of the questions from the interviews include:

  • Do you recycle often and why?

  • Does your neighborhood or apartment offer recycle curbside pick-up or recycle bins?

  • Do you sort your recycling items into categories?

  • Have you ever dropped off items at a recycling facility or at a business?

  • Do you know papers that are stained with grease or other food residue can not be recycled?When unsure about whether an item can be recycled or not, what do you do?

  • Georgia doesn't accept glass recyclables, what do you do with your unused glass items??

  • What do you do with broken electronics?

Target Audience

Millennials age group (18-40 years old) who care about the environment and are conscious about recycling.

Affinity Diagram

Paint Points

  • Unsure about whether an item is recyclable or not.

  • Inability to find local disposal location in the city.

  • Online search results are outdated and unreliable.

  • Not being able to identify the category of recyclable items.

Design Opportunities

  • Creating search tool for local disposal location that informs users what recycles where.

  • Provide information on whether an item is recyclable or not.

  • Offer recycling tips and general recycle information.

Problem Statement

Many millennials are not able to identify which item is recyclable or which recycle category the items belong to. They don’t know where to drop off recyclable items in their city and recycling via package mail service is expensive.

Hypothesis Statement

We believe that by creating a platform in which features can provide users with recycle disposal locations and help users to identify recyclable items, users’ experience in recycling will be improved as will users concern about recycling. Also, users will recycle more and recycle right. We will know we are right when visits and recycle loads at locations we provide increase. We will also know by collecting the data on how often users use our mobile app to find recycling locations or to look up what is recyclable.


Phase 3 - Ideate 

Feature Priority

The 4 significant features are selected based on user research and testing. The main purpose of our product is customized location search for recycling disposal which based on users’ location and customized recycle item search that provides recycle and environmental information on searched items.


Site Map


User Flow


Phase 4 - Prototype





High Fidelity Prototype