By Carlos Manuel Eusoya

PHOTO: One News

Improper waste management is an alarming issue in the country. Plastic containers, wrappers, bottles, and other forms of garbage loom the streets and suburbs.

Fortunately, software engineer and environmentalist Benjoe Vidal has found a way to encourage citizens to pick up and recycle their plastic wastes. Through his developed mobile app “TrashCash”, citizens can exchange their litter for promising rewards. These rewards may be in the form of digital monetary credit, grocery products, or other valuable items from the trade partners of TrashCash.

TrashCash can be downloaded in Google Playstore, but it is yet to be released in iOS. The app is powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence. It can scan an image of the plastic waste and determine the plastic’s approximate weight and monetary value. Once users have learned the cost of their waste, they can deposit the collected materials at drop-off centers to earn “trashpoints”. “Trashpoints” can be exchanged for credit or products.

The deposited materials are sold to Sentinel UpCycling Technologies, a plastic manufacturing corporation that collects recyclable materials. The said organization will recycle the plastic waste into useful and durable items, such as crates and trash bins. TrashCash will receive 40% of the revenue from the recyclables, while 60% of the earnings will go to the local government.

Moreover, TrashCash is currently aiming to segregate plastics into six categories based on their composition. These categories include PET or polyethylene terephthalate (drinking bottles and jars), HDPE or high-density polyethylene (motor oil bottles, lotion bottles, bottle ring and caps), PP or polypropylene (dishware, straws, and microwavable containers), LDPE or low-density polyethylene (plastic bags and pouches), PS or polystyrene (plates and cutlery), and Miscellaneous Plastics.

Vidal, who is a hiker fond of traveling, said he ideated the concept of recycling for rewards when he saw the growing amount of trash in tourist destinations. “Ang dami kong nakikitang mga basura sa kapaligiran natin and sobrang nakakasira talaga siya ng environment. Doon nag-start iyong idea na ‘why not incentivize iyong mga community to prevent iyong mga plastic o ang mga basura na kung saan-saan lang napupunta,” he added.

For its ingenuity and social importance, TrashCash won awards in Impact Hub Manila’s Impact Hackathon and the United Nations Development Programme in its Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge 2021. However, Vidal believes the application can still be improved.

TrashCash is currently establishing partnerships with Local Government Units (LGUs). He hopes that LGUs will adopt the app, as he believes the cooperation of citizens and communities is crucial in determining the success of the initiative. He also hopes that others will be willing to help them on their “mission to keep our environment clean”.

Report source: ONE News