CyclePoint is an app and smart-bin behavior change initiative that brings incentives, feedback, and a social element to recycling. Students at Loughborough University can earn reward points for every cup recycled, receive feedback on the impact of their environmental efforts, and encourage friends through a social leaderboard.
1 million disposable cups are used each year on Loughborough University’s campus. The challenge is to design a solution that changes current student behaviors from discarding cups to recycling them. Research shows three leading factors for low paper cup recycling rates among students including a lack of convenience, knowledge and necessity. The insights drawn from each of these findings, respectively, is that inconvenience outweighs importance, increased knowledge does not lead to action, and forgetfulness is determined by necessity.
Many people agree that paper cup recycling is important for our environment while the current behavior was one of inconvenience. The right combination of different strategies can encourage a change in both attitudes and behaviors by making it a more meaningful experience. For this reason both interviews and observations were conducted to understand the disconnect between what people say and what they do.
In order to address as many behavioral issues as possible, the behavior change strategies were approached with a sort of chain-reaction mentality and hope that solving one issue would lead to the organic resolution of another. This was achieved primarily through the use of incentives to offset recycling efforts for students prone to forgetting their reusable cups, feedback to fight inconvenience continually outweighing recycling importance, and behavior steering to ensure paper cups are recycled correctly in the bins.
The solution consists of an app and smart bin with NFC. When students finish their coffees the app will remind them to recycle their cup. Once at a bin students will see clear recycling instructions on the bin. Objects placed in bins are scanned to verify that they are coffee cups. Then students simply tap the bin with their phones and receive reward points. As students recycle they begin to see the positive influence they have on their environment via the statistics page and can even see how their friends and school are doing.