The recycling rate in NYC is 15 percent. Compared to 63 percent in Austria, which has the highest recycling rate according to the European Environment Agency, the figure seems to be attributed to factors beyond lifestyle, and extending to urban design. A new app called Intellibins, which helps users find the nearest recycling station, could now go some way to change that figure.
“I once had to walk from 28th Street to 14th Street-Union Square to find a recycling bin,” Kathryn Hurley, co-founder of the app says. And it is this inconvenience that perhaps deters New Yorkers from recycling. The mobile app maps 1,535 recycling points covering 21 materials — everything from bubble wrap to electronics, clothing and aluminum bottles. Users simply choose their type of waste, and the app will provide them with the nearest point they can recycle at — be it public trash bins or participating merchants.
The app sources its data from the NYC Open Data platform, New York Recycles!, and its own research. It is currently inviting Beta testers, and aims to eventually incorporate recycling rewards, integrate social media profiles and introduce “check-ins” at recycling points.
We have seen other location-based apps give users smarter navigation around the streets of NYC and other urban cities — a walkability app shows users their greenest route, while another helps users find the nearest public restroom. What other aspects of public urban spaces would benefit from being incorporated into a mapping system?