60 Second Science: Trash Talk

In the fall of 2016, a group of UCI students created Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), an organization that inspires an eco-friendly society by connecting students to hands-on engineering projects. These projects can be as simple as outreach programs that educate people about world-wide ecological problems, or they can be as advanced as cultivating algae for biofuel.

Since the start of this chapter, four projects related to solving the world’s sustainability crisis arose at UCI. These four projects are: UCI Solar Car, Digital Waste Bins, Mobile Water Application and a Water Nozzle project.

Kiyomi Takemoto, a member of ESW and a project team leader, has been working on the Digital Waste Basket project for quite some time. This project was inspired by the University of Washington’s initiative to make throwing away trash much more interactive and conducive to recycling. Unlike any ordinary waste basket, the Digital Waste Basket is equipped with the ability to interact with its user, in this case the person throwing away their trash, and help the user understand which parts of his or her trash are recyclable or compostable. Behind the wastebaskets are large vibrant screens that inform the user about how his or her trash decisions are contributing to making the world a better place.

Kiyomi noted, “UCI’s Hospitality & Dining Office reached out to me this past March with a $10,000 grant from Pepsi Co. asking that [ESW] develop something along the lines of the University of Washington’s interactive digital waste bins.”

Although The University of Washington provides a possible set of waste bins for purchase for $10,000, Kiyomi’s goal was to create this project, as well as to make an installation for a cheaper price, in hopes of possibly building a second set of bins with the allocated money.

Since then, Kiyomi has been tirelessly building this machine and recruiting students in order to make this project as successful as possible. In fact, Kiyomi and her team are at the final stages of the project and planning to debut it by this winter at the Student Center Food Court.

Overall, Kiyomi and her team are making sure that UCI leads a surer path to sustainability. By creating projects such as the Digital Waste Baskets, they hope that UCI’s future is much cleaner ecologically and environmentally.