Bringing recycling to our fingertips #NoMoreExcuses

UI/UX Case Study: A waste management app to connect the dots between brands, customers and waste management organizations It’s easy to shop from the comfort of our homes and it’s even more easier to dump all the packaging material in the waste bin without caring about what’s going to happen next. However, it’s not all that easy to recycle our waste in India which is why we continue to dump waste without caring much about the environmental impact. Credits: MBMadigan via TenorThe Problem While I was working on implementing a recycling program, I realised that reverse logistics is a challenge for both the brand and the customers, when they had to collect/return the packaging material. The customers wanted someone to come to their doorstep to collect the packaging material but the brand did not find it feasible to arrange reverse pickup because of obvious reasons like increased logistics costs, carbon footprint and warehousing concerns. The next go-to option for the brand was to ask the customers to send the packaging to the warehouse but again, it’s not a convenient process for the customers. Challenges faced by consumers. Illustration credits: Pablo StanleyNow, let’s zoom out a little and take a quick look at the present waste management scenario in India. No, I’m not going to bore you with facts and figures, just the absolutely necessary stuff. So, read on :) Waste disposal methods In India, we dispose of waste in many different ways. Here are a few such methods: We dump everything in the same bin and don’t care about what happens once it’s out of our homes ( or hope that the municipality will take care of waste segregation ). We segregate waste into wet waste and dry waste and give it to the municipality who collects the wet waste and dry waste separately. We segregate waste into wet waste and dry waste at home and then dump both into the same public bin ( I’m serious, this happens ). We compost wet waste and dispose of dry waste ( According to my user research only 13% of the households compost wet waste ). We have always had better ways to dispose of less frequent waste like old clothes and newspapers by donating to the needy or selling to the scrap dealer. However, day to day waste disposal has its challenges. Out of 62 million tonnes of waste generated every year, less than 60% is collected and only about 15% is processed. Credits: Nilesh Thonte via PixaHive“As per Material Recycling Association (MRAI), India’s recycling rates stands at 30%.” Key players in the recycling industry In some locations, the municipality insists on households segregating waste. The recyclable dry waste is sent for recycling. In certain other locations, informal waste pickers collect recyclable waste from the garbage dumps and give it to collection units. Non-profit organisations also play an important role by employing waste pickers to segregate and process waste. Recyclable dry waste is converted to new products, co-processed to be used in the cement industry or converted into energy. We also have eco-conscious brands that partner with waste management organizations to recover similar packaging material from landfills or ask customers to return the packaging. We also have innovative brands developing products from recycled materials. Recycled polyester shoes, eco-bricks, bags made of rubber tyres are some examples of such products. “The Extended Producer Responsibility framework states that manufacturers are responsible to take back, recycle & ensure proper disposal of plastic waste & e-waste.” Recycling processes followed by eco-conscious brandsWhile we have brands that are setting up individual recycling processes, it’s not convenient for the customers to switch from one process to the other based on the brand they are purchasing from. “What is missing is a common platform that would motivate customers to recycle at ease.” Credits: Pablo StanleyUser Research I collected information from 25 people. In the first round, I interviewed 15 people to understand their waste disposal process. If the individuals were unmarried, it was mostly their moms who were responsible for waste disposal and hence I decided to conduct a second round of interviews to understand the phone usage behaviour of moms. Highlights of user researchSolution What can be done to improve the recycling rate? Customers should be able to recycle at ease, like shopping from the comfort of their homes. It is easy to dump everything in the dustbin. Hence, customers should be motivated to recycle. Brands should show proof of their recycling initiatives. Recycled products and take-back programmes should get more visibility so that customers understand the end-to-end process. User Persona Based on the 25 interviews conducted, I selected the following user personas: On the basis of the user insights, and the problem, I realised that the best solution would be a waste management app that makes recycling as easy as online shopping. Introducing “An app to connect the

Bringing recycling to our fingertips #NoMoreExcuses

UI/UX Case Study: A waste management app to connect the dots between brands, customers and waste management organizations

An cover image that represents Wasto — A Waste Management App

It’s easy to shop from the comfort of our homes and it’s even more easier to dump all the packaging material in the waste bin without caring about what’s going to happen next. However, it’s not all that easy to recycle our waste in India which is why we continue to dump waste without caring much about the environmental impact.

A gif of a kid throwing stuff out of the window
Credits: MBMadigan via Tenor

The Problem

While I was working on implementing a recycling program, I realised that reverse logistics is a challenge for both the brand and the customers, when they had to collect/return the packaging material.

The customers wanted someone to come to their doorstep to collect the packaging material but the brand did not find it feasible to arrange reverse pickup because of obvious reasons like increased logistics costs, carbon footprint and warehousing concerns. The next go-to option for the brand was to ask the customers to send the packaging to the warehouse but again, it’s not a convenient process for the customers.

Challenges faced by consumers. Illustration credits: Pablo Stanley

Now, let’s zoom out a little and take a quick look at the present waste management scenario in India. No, I’m not going to bore you with facts and figures, just the absolutely necessary stuff. So, read on :)

Waste disposal methods

In India, we dispose of waste in many different ways. Here are a few such methods:

  1. We dump everything in the same bin and don’t care about what happens once it’s out of our homes ( or hope that the municipality will take care of waste segregation ).
  2. We segregate waste into wet waste and dry waste and give it to the municipality who collects the wet waste and dry waste separately.
  3. We segregate waste into wet waste and dry waste at home and then dump both into the same public bin ( I’m serious, this happens ).
  4. We compost wet waste and dispose of dry waste ( According to my user research only 13% of the households compost wet waste ).

We have always had better ways to dispose of less frequent waste like old clothes and newspapers by donating to the needy or selling to the scrap dealer. However, day to day waste disposal has its challenges.

Out of 62 million tonnes of waste generated every year, less than 60% is collected and only about 15% is processed.

Credits: Nilesh Thonte via PixaHive
“As per Material Recycling Association (MRAI), India’s recycling rates stands at 30%.”

Key players in the recycling industry

In some locations, the municipality insists on households segregating waste. The recyclable dry waste is sent for recycling. In certain other locations, informal waste pickers collect recyclable waste from the garbage dumps and give it to collection units. Non-profit organisations also play an important role by employing waste pickers to segregate and process waste. Recyclable dry waste is converted to new products, co-processed to be used in the cement industry or converted into energy.

We also have eco-conscious brands that partner with waste management organizations to recover similar packaging material from landfills or ask customers to return the packaging. We also have innovative brands developing products from recycled materials. Recycled polyester shoes, eco-bricks, bags made of rubber tyres are some examples of such products.

“The Extended Producer Responsibility framework states that manufacturers are responsible to take back, recycle & ensure proper disposal of plastic waste & e-waste.”
Recycling processes followed by eco-conscious brands

While we have brands that are setting up individual recycling processes, it’s not convenient for the customers to switch from one process to the other based on the brand they are purchasing from.

“What is missing is a common platform that would motivate customers to recycle at ease.”
Credits: Pablo Stanley

User Research

I collected information from 25 people. In the first round, I interviewed 15 people to understand their waste disposal process. If the individuals were unmarried, it was mostly their moms who were responsible for waste disposal and hence I decided to conduct a second round of interviews to understand the phone usage behaviour of moms.

Highlights of user research

Solution

What can be done to improve the recycling rate?

  • Customers should be able to recycle at ease, like shopping from the comfort of their homes.
  • It is easy to dump everything in the dustbin. Hence, customers should be motivated to recycle.
  • Brands should show proof of their recycling initiatives.
  • Recycled products and take-back programmes should get more visibility so that customers understand the end-to-end process.

User Persona

Based on the 25 interviews conducted, I selected the following user personas:

On the basis of the user insights, and the problem, I realised that the best solution would be a waste management app that makes recycling as easy as online shopping.

Introducing

“An app to connect the dots between brands, customers and waste management organizations.”

Sitemap

Here is the first level navigation. ( I couldn’t include the entire sitemap for the obvious reason that it’s huge ???? )

Wireframe

What you see here are the first cut screens that went through maximum iteration during the design process. While designing the wireframes, I wanted to ensure that the navigation is easy for a 62-year-old lady as well.

“After creating the sitemap & wireframes and making multiple iterations, it was time to move to the UI part. Finally some colours! ????”

Colour Palette

I wanted ‘waste management’ to feel as fun as possible while also making it easy for a 62-year-old to navigate through the app.

Typography

The objective was to keep the UI as clean as possible and hence decided to choose the font Airbnb Cereal App.

Final Designs

(… finally ????! If you have actually scrolled till here, then I’m totally in awe. Scroll on! The best part is here! )

100+screens: That’s the total number of screens. However, I’m not going to show you everything and make you yawn. Here are a few of them:

Manage waste navigation

On the home page ‘Manage Waste’, users get to choose their prefered method for recycling, based on which the user earns Wasto coins. Once they select, the next screen shows them the programs active under that specific category in their location.

Create collection container

The user is asked to agree to the terms and conditions. This is a common step for all 3 options — create collection container, drop-off & pickup. Post agreeing to terms, the user chooses the address, selects container open timings and uploads images of the container & surroundings.

Drop-off at nearby collection container

The first two screens shown below are a part of the scheduling drop-off flow. Once, the drop-off is confirmed, the user receives a drop-off label as shown in the third screen.

Schedule pickup from your doorstep

The first screen shown below is a part of the scheduling pickup flow. Once, the pickup is confirmed, the user receives a shipping label as shown in the third screen below.

Add new address

This is common navigation that appears in the sections pickup, drop-off, creating collection container and edit profile.

User profile navigation

In the ‘User Profile’ section, the first tab that opens up is ‘Your initiatives.’ The second tab, ‘Your badges’ was designed to motivate the users to get started/continue using the app by enticing them to unlock new achievements and share them to gain appreciation from their peers. The idea of the ‘Your squad’ tab is to acquire new customers and create a sense of belongingness within the app for all users. It is designed to bring a feeling of healthy competition among peers.

Customer chat & customize

The floating button the main page of the ‘User Profile’ section open to the customer chat. The ‘Customize’ section allows the users to edit their profile, change their location, change the app theme, modify notification settings & check out the FAQs.

Your initiatives

Once the user creates collection container / schedules drop-off / schedules pickup, they can check this section to know the status, save their shipping label. Here I’ve added the screens for a collection container intiative. Similar screens were based for pickup & drop-off as well based on the respective flows.

Shop navigation

The customers get Wasto coins for their recycling initiatives. It depends on the weight of the waste sent and the method chosen — creating a collection container gets maximum coins and pickup gets the least number of coins. The purpose of having the shop section is two-fold. By using Wasto coins they can get discounts on these recycled products thereby motivating them to take more recycling initiatives. The second objective is to provide a platform for recycled products sold by smaller brands since it is difficult for them to stand out otherwise.

And that’s the end of the app designs. ????

Final thoughts and key learnings

Creating such a product is only the first step. It’s going to be a long process to understand what exactly motivates users to take that extra step to recycle rather than dumping all waste together.

This case study was created as a part of the course ‘UX Design with Expert | The Very Basics of UX Design by Atul Khola’. In this case study, the objective was to incorporate the design process while also experimenting and creating a good user interface.

While creating this case study certain experiences stood out from the rest. Here they are:

For more design content, follow me on:

Upasna Kakkat | Product Designer | [email protected]

Bringing recycling to our fingertips #NoMoreExcuses was originally published in Muzli - Design Inspiration on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.