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Trash swap design proposal

Kate Worner

Project title

Trash Swap


U101 Design Thinking

About me

I am a Computing, IT and Design student. I live near Glasgow with my husband and three children and enjoy being outside and exploring, reading and many, many different crafts. 


My project is called Trash Swap, a recycling system to provide easy access to recycling facilities for soft plastics as well as encouraging behavioural changes towards recycling.

I began with the problem of waste and narrowed the focus of my research to soft plastic waste and how it can be recycled. I was able to generate the problem statement: How might we design a solution that allows soft plastic waste to be recycled easily and responsibly?

Soft plastics are widely believed to be unrecyclable, however this is not the case at all. 70% of plastic waste comes from packaging, 22% of this is soft plastics. Currently approximately 6% of soft plastics are recycled in the UK, this is an issue that affects everyone. 

I held a creative session and asked the participants to consider the problem statement and through a variety of activities we generated many ideas ranging from new products to systems that could be adapted to encourage use. I combined a number of ideas to produce a design proposal for a new type of recycling bin and a system to encourage recycling. 

Trash Swap is a system where users can drop off their clean soft plastic waste into one of the recycling points and get points for their deposit. Points can be redeemed for cash-back, donation to charity or to buy re-usable products that reduce plastic use i.e. wax wraps, water bottles, tote bags etc. The bin will register the deposited waste and display a QR code, the user can then scan with their phone and their points will be uploaded. Social media campaigns and competitions can be used to promote usage

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