Want to recycle, but don’t know where? If you’re in New York City, you’re in luck: There’s now an app that will tell you how to dispose of just about anything worth reclaiming.
Called Intellibins, the app maps 1,535 recycling points covering 21 materials–everything from electronics and clothing to bottles and bubble wrap. Just open the Android or iOS version, choose your waste stream, and the app locates the nearest spot.
The idea comes from Sandy Woodruff, Kathryn Hurley, Diana Melara, and Prat Tanapaisankit, who met at a hackathon event for Google Glass. They shared a common interest in improving recycling access in New York, says Hurley, and the four started working on a Glass app. Later, they switched to a phone version, because they felt Glass’s scanning capabilities were too limited for their purposes.
The underlying data comes from the NYC Open Data platform, New York Recycles!, and the team’s own research. The locations include public sites, cafes, and stores like Whole Foods and BJ’s.
New York’s recycling rate is about half the national average, according to some estimates, so it could certainly use some help. Intellibins could be particularly useful when you’re away from home, or need recycling points for items that sanitation trucks won’t handle.
The startup hopes to map more sites in New York, then expand elsewhere, starting with Washington, D.C., and Boston. It doesn’t yet have a business model, as such. But Hurley, who also works as an in-house lawyer at MakerBot, is open to ideas and partnerships. “We want to meet new people who are interested in helping and giving us advice,” she says.