Talent Feature

Recycling Goes Digital: An Intro to Smart Technologies

Software apps and new technologies to manage waste and recycling

Here’s a special talent profile from a student who is interested in the intersection between technology and the industry. Continue reading below to learn more about companies and technologies that are making recycling and trash less complicated…from our trash pal, Jash.

The Playing Field for the Industry is Changing

The digital age has ushered in a wave of innovative technologies across all sectors, and the recycling industry is no exception. From smart waste technologies that optimize waste management processes to apps that make recycling more accessible to individuals and businesses, we're seeing a dynamic shift in how waste is managed.

In this post, we'll explore the rise of recycling apps, delve into the features of some of the top apps currently available, and also highlight other notable smart waste technologies that are transforming waste management.

The Advent of Recycling Apps

The global push for sustainability and the pervasiveness of smartphones have converged to bring about the rise of recycling apps. These apps aim to make recycling more convenient, efficient, and engaging, providing users with a wealth of information at their fingertips. Whether it's finding the nearest recycling center, learning how to properly dispose of specific items, or even earning rewards for recycling, these apps offer a range of features to promote and facilitate responsible waste management.

5 Recycling Apps to Explore

Let's delve into five of the most notable recycling apps currently making a difference in waste management:

iRecycle: This app offers over 1.6 million ways to recycle 350 different materials in the United States, providing local and convenient recycling opportunities. It also offers a mapping feature for easy navigation to recycling locations.

RecycleNation: Known as the world's largest single recycling database, RecycleNation provides a comprehensive list of recycling locations and useful tips. It categorizes more than 2,500 items, making it easier to find proper disposal methods for a wide range of materials.

Recycle Coach: This app helps users avoid common recycling mistakes and contamination. It provides details about trash and recycling days, special collections, and solutions for hard-to-recycle items. Its search function is particularly useful for determining the correct sorting of different waste types.

Recyclebank®: Recyclebank rewards users for learning and implementing proper recycling. Users earn points that can be exchanged for local business discounts or donated to support environmental education, incentivizing sustainable behavior.

Grow Recycling: Designed for children, Grow Recycling is an engaging game that teaches kids how to properly sort and dispose of over 100 different pieces of garbage and recyclable materials. This app instills responsible waste management habits from an early age.

Newest App on the scene by The Recycling Partnership

Recycle Check: This app provides a dynamic platform delivering up-to-date, local recycling information to U.S. consumers. The platform allows users to quickly find out whether a specific item can be recycled in their local area. It also assists brands in navigating the complex recycling landscape. The app is powered by The Partnership’s National Recycling Database, which aggregates recycling data from over 9,000 U.S. community programs, covering 97% of the U.S. population

These apps are just a few examples of how technology is simplifying and incentivizing recycling, fostering a cultural shift towards more sustainable waste management practices.

20161007_150318 (1)

Beyond Apps: Smart Waste Technologies

While recycling apps are making a significant impact, they represent just one aspect of the digital revolution in waste management. A range of smart waste technologies are also emerging, offering innovative solutions for reducing environmental impact and improving waste management efficiency:

Smart Sensors / IOT: This system monitors the fill-level of trash cans and provides real-time information on their contents and location. This helps streamline waste management practices and reduce unnecessary garbage truck dispatches. Companies such as Pello, Compolog, and Enevo are currently implementing this technology to transform waste management practices. 

AI-Powered Recycling Robots: These robots quickly and accurately differentiate between different materials, allowing for more efficient waste sorting in recycling centers. This technology can dramatically increase the amount of waste processed. Here's a link to our post about AI and robots.

Solar-Powered Trash Compactors: These smart containers compress trash to increase capacity and include waste level sensors to optimize collection scheduling. 

E-Waste Kiosks: Specialist kiosks like EcoATM offer a convenient and eco-friendly way to dispose of electronic waste, helping to ensure harmful substances don't leak into the environment. They may even offer cash in exchange for devices in good condition, promoting higher e-waste recycling rates​​.

Pneumatic Waste Pipes: Installed below public waste containers, these pipes transport waste directly to processing centers, reducing the need for garbage trucks and minimizing the chance of containers overflowing. This technology is particularly useful in densely populated urban areas​​.

These smart technologies, coupled with recycling apps, are significantly enhancing the efficacy and sustainability of waste management. Their continued development and adoption is crucial in our collective pursuit of a more sustainable future.


The advent of recycling apps and smart waste technologies represents a major stride in waste management. These innovations make recycling more convenient, efficient, and engaging, while also significantly reducing the environmental impact of waste disposal. As we continue to navigate the digital age, the integration of such technologies into everyday life will play a crucial role in promoting sustainable waste management practices and fostering a culture of recycling. The future of recycling is digital, and these apps and technologies are leading the charge.

Jash Sangani is an undergrad studying economics and environmental science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is passionate about increasing the accessibility and awareness of sustainable practices to increase environmental justice. After graduating, he intends to start a career at the intersection of business and the environment.

Leave A Comment

Stay Up To Date

Subscribe to Recyclesaurus to stay up to date on the leading industry information and the coolest jobs in waste and recycling!

Similar posts