A Little Positive Feedback Goes a Long Way

On one football Saturday, University of Georgia students tested simple improvements to the school’s standard recycling bin, with impressive results. The bin had red LED lights which changed to green when someone dropped an item into the bin. In addition, there was a numeric display which increased its count by one with each deposit. The bin was placed in the UGA student union in the same spot where a regular recycling bin had been on a previous game day. During a control game day, deposits were monitored from three hours before until one hour after kickoff. The regular bin collected six items during that time. On the test Saturday, even though attendance at the game was lower, the positive feedback created a buzz in the crowd with people bringing friends over to take a look. At the end of the four-hour period, 19 items had been placed in the bin for recycling.

After further testing, the students developed a “Smart-R-Bin,” which incorporates a streamlined version of the technology and the ability to monitor the container remotely. Bins can be monitored so that staff knows whether the container has been tampered with and when it needs to be emptied. Not only that, when an item is recycled, the new bin gives a big green smile in LED lights.

Learn more at http://werecycle.engr.uga.edu.

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