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Hacking the Climate? Yes! How? #Climathon!

By Erica Svetec, Geotechnical Faculty Varaždin

My name is Erica and together with my buddies Filip, Ivona, Patricia, Karlo, Anja, Darko and Jelena have participated in a 24-hour hackathon for climate held on 26th and 27th October in my city, Varaždin.

The goal of this event was to gather young people, students, entrepreneurs, artists, visionaries and everyone who feels the need to create better waste management in the city of Varaždin. In those two days we’ve learned something new, met a lot of people, had fun and most importantly, worked on solutions in an interdisciplinary environment. Competitions like this are very rare in Varaždin, so it was really exciting and rewarding!

In order to work fast and effectively, we formed teams. Each team had their own unique idea, worked on it with help and guidance of mentors and then the teams had to pitch it in four minutes in front of the jury, or better said, interested parties. Interested parties because the jury was consisted of directors of Varaždin communal company, a big recycling company, the Student centre, the City, the Faculty! Oh my, we were scared to death and motivated at the same time!

Our team idea for WasteBook came from brainstorming of how to reward citizens for doing the right job in sorting waste, which usually is not the case, people just do not care enough. Then in a moment Filip said: “Ratios!” and gave ourselves a challenge how to combine the statistics and give citizens motivation for better separation. So, we came up with WasteBook and presented it as a solution, which has been recognized by the jury and the city as the best, so we won the first place. Yeey!

So what’s WasteBook?

It is a web application that stimulates users to recycle through a gamification option and provides information to users and service providers for more efficient waste collection and recycling. The platform functions like a social network through which users can interact with each other and participate in competitive tasks related to waste separation, while monitoring the achievements of households, buildings or businesses.

By using WasteBook, we want to motivate and educate citizens about the proper waste separation, to achieve communication between citizens and concessionaires, and to produce statistical data related to the separation of communal waste that will affect the allocation of waste disposal, but also reduce the costs of disposal.

Our stream of thought with WasteBook is to design an application to act like all-in-one guideline for smart homes, through which people can regulate their consumption, have an insight in real time measurements and regulations like heating, electricity and water consumption. But at the same time give opportunity to interact with other consumers in a fun and competitive way like chatrooms, games and other.

Waste, waste, waste… how to make people cooperate?

We are all concerned of waste accumulation and the high costs that comes with it. According to the survey, we obtained results that citizens are not enough informed about proper separation, which results as an increase in the amount of municipal waste and reduction in the amount of collected waste which serves as a further raw material. This problem is one of the reasons for high costs of disposal, and we wanted to change that. For example, in Varaždin county the amount of municipal waste is around 15.000t /year while the amount of collected and processed recyclable waste is only 2.500t / year – less then 20%! Given the amount collected, this means that every user at the doorstep needs to reduce the amount of residual, unseparated municipal waste that he or she handles to the provider of public services. We shall make it fun and easy with WasteBook!

“In order to change the world, you must first change yourself.”

By following this quote, we must be present to see the society and environment that we are building. By being aware of ourselves and our actions we can change things going bottom-up.

In the end, we are all consumers producing waste. And in terms of waste management we must start primarily from ourselves following the simple recipe of 5 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair and Recover.

Climathon is a global movement dedicated to solving city climate challenges: Annual Climathon 24-hour hackathon – 26 October 2018. The WasteBook team participated at the first ever Climathon organized in Varaždin, together with 113 other cities in the World that were at the same day hacking the climate-change problems in their cities. Climathon is powered by Climate-KIC, supported by the European Institute for Innovation and Technology a body of the EU.