Spring is coming for recycling
We have a waste crisis. Only 32% of Victorian household non-garden bin content is recycled, according to Sustainability Victoria.
It is everyone's problem: manufacturers and retailers; household consumers; and waste managers. Despite the means to do so much better, so far we do poorly.
But if we play fairly, we can all be the solution.
Let's play Game of Throwns. It embraces the world of gamification to make awareness and change behaviour around waste fun!
At the supermarket....
It's a sort of green loyalty card as well, allowing participating retailers to reward customers who hit high recycle use rates at the checkout. Once all their goods are scanned, the customer receives a docket with a grand total of what proportion of their list is recyclable. The docket might even break down, line by line, what is recyclable and in what manner.
At home, the game is more an honesty system. Householders do it because it is fun and satisfying to do better. They scan the barcodes of waste using the Game of Throwns app on their phone. They will learn what proportion of their recycled purchases was actually recycled, plus whether they beat the average Victorian and even person in their council area. We'll even tell them if they can recycle better than a Pom!
And for extra buzz, households can share scores. Kids can push parents and grandparents to do better.
Plus, the details of scanned binned items can be added to a shopping list, allowing households to modify the contents of the weekly shop to more sustainable goods over time.
Advantages of approach
This project has the capability to start small and scale up. Find one supermarket that is willing to participate in a trial. They get a huge reputational reward through all the traditional and social media interest. Perhaps even offer them a commercial rates discount to be involved. Over time, other retailers will want to join or risk been seen as a laggard.
The game gives policy makers real time data about the purchase of recyclables, plus a database that just keeps growing.
Phase 2: sound of sustainability
As the scheme is rolled out and matures, it can use other new technology such as home listening devices e.g Google Home and Amazon's Alexa. Owners of these machines can ask "Is this Cow's Best Milk milk carton recyclable?" and the Game of Throwns database will be the go-to-place for these devices to find the answers: "yes, according to Game of Throwns and Sustainability Victoria, the carton of Cow's Best Milk is recyclable. Please place in your recycle bin. By the way, it is bin night tonight!"
Sustainability Victoria is the primary source of data. A key database is the Diversion Rate, Victorian Local Government Annual Waste Services Report 2015-16 which will be used for benchmarking individuals. We'll also use the equivalence data from the kerbside calculator to make some of the environmental achievements easier to appreciate.
The solution will access an open source database of barcodes. It will also access UK waste data information to give an international benchmark for our players.
But the real story will be the game's ability to generate its own data goldmine. Over time, a rich store of real time intelligence will be built.