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Energy & Sustainability

Member Spotlight: Zerocycle Will Make You Recycle

recycle data science compost zerocycle

Zerocycle is set on reinventing something many of us know is good in theory but fail to actually practice: recycling.

Zerocycle is a cleantech company that “marries data analytics to behavioral science” to help cities reduce waste and increase recycling. In December 2015 the 1776 member startup launched its program for the very first time in Salt Lake City, Utah and is set to roll out the platform in several other municipalities in the United States. With the huge demands the company has seen so far, it won’t be long before Zerocycle’s impacts are visible across the country.

Cities have several incentives to raise their recycling rates, including their reputations, cost reduction, and environmental sustainability. Many have even publicly pledged very aggressive recycling targets.

Unfortunately, the data reveals that recycling rates just aren’t getting better — diversion rates (the amount of waste diverted from landfills for recycling) have flatlined in the past few years, and city-wide education programs are no longer moving the needle. That’s where Zerocycle comes in. Founder and CEO Hunter Hayes says,

“We provide a turnkey solution to the problem by wrapping data analytics around cities’ waste operations. Every city is trying to increase its ‘diversion rate.’ Politically, nobody wants to be known as the ‘garbage city.’ Operationally, more recycling saves money. And of course, there’s environmental sustainability.”

Zerocycle’s secret sauce? It uses readily available data captured by municipalities through garbage truck routes, which produce “weight tickets” (the difference between in-weight and out-weight) from landfills, recycling centers, or compost facilities. Cities collect this information mostly for accounting purposes since they pay for waste by the pound.

Zerocycle found a way to leverage the data through its GIS analytical system, which determined that waste routes don’t equal neighborhoods. The team, in turn, figured out how to “disaggregrate all those data streams then re-aggregrate them into neighborhood-level metros.” Zerocycle decided to take all this data and put it into action by creating a citywide Neighborhood Waste Report that shows homeowners how much they’re recycling compared to their neighbors.

Check out how Zerocycle works below:

Zerocycle Infographic On Brand

Robyn Park

Robyn is currently a junior studying marketing and journalism at the George Washington University. As a marketing intern, she assists with member communication, media research, and social media strategy. Robyn…