Milestone One: Scope and Preliminary Concept


Audience: members of society who throw away trash and are unaware of the effect they have on the environment (land and water).

Environment: Water, land, restaurants

Motivation and preliminary observations

Motivation: to research and identify the flaws in throwing away trash in land, water, and restaurant environments.

  • Land
    • Research
      • 69 percent of the things Americans toss out end up in landfills; 1 percent in countries in Belgium and Sweden [link].
      • Composting is seen as a better solution [link].
      • Most Americans pay little attention to the amount of waste they are discarding [link].
      • One of the problems of trash collection is that there’s so much different kinds of trash and they all have to be disposed of at different locations
      • Sorting garbage is difficult and confusing
  •  Water
    • Research
      • The biggest causes of ocean pollution include:
        • Oil spills and leaks
        • Agricultural runoff and pesticides
        • Industrial waste Trash dumping, especially plastic
        • Air pollution and acid rain
        • Sewage and sludge
        • [link] [link]
      • Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski’s Seabin invention is an ocean-cleaning device is  simple and effective
      • Boyan Slat – cleaning the ocean in 10 years
      • Microbots can clean up polluted water [link]
    • Observations
      • Celebration Park in Allen, TX
        • In the trash cans there were: Water bottles, grocery bags, fast food bags, food wraps
        • In the recycle bins there were: Water bottles, grocery bags
        • On the pond surface: Styrofoam, bottle cap, plastic ball, can, paper, small plastic bag, bread bag twist, medium plastic bag, plastic ring pop ring
      • In general, trash floated to one side of the pond – probably due to the pond waves/wind direction. The park is clean with a few pieces of trash here and there or in the water.
  •  Restaurant
    •  Research
      • Food waste as a percentage of the total food used is 9.55% in fast food establishments and 3.11% in full service restaurants in the United States, which is equal to 49,296,540 lbs in all full service restaurants and 85,063,390 lbs in all fast food restaurants
      • Most waste that is thrown out at restaurants is food and makes it a waste/efficiency problem rather than an environmental one
    • Observations
      • Sassy Popcorn
        • They do not recycle – throw all the trash in one can
        • Composting is not an option for them — seen as too complex and difficult

 Brief account of ideation process

With these three observation and research accounts, we broke down what we needed to focus on when creating this idea. The group decided that the problem we needed to focus on was not the fact that people were not sorting trash, but rather having issues with throwing trash into trash cans. Most debris that ends up in ponds, parks, and lakes are the results of people throwing away trash carelessly.

  • Tech trash can
    • Trash can that sorts out what can/cannot be recycled/biodegradable.
  • Environmental sensors
    • Sensors placed in environment that detect how much trash in the area.
  • Robots that pick up trash
    • Robots that move independently and pick up debris in public areas or be used for festivals and fairs
  • Augmented reality glasses
    • Glasses that analyze environment based on debris in the area – will cast red/yellow/green depending on status

Proposal of concepts

Smart Trash Can

Trash collecting and sorting robots


Formative study plan

We have to look at what people need help with most. Do they have an issue with throwing away trash, or do they need help with sorting out the trash? How can we make these objects a timeless need?Our plan is to adjust to the needs of the audience and help them see the effect they have on the environment.