The world has always suffered from poor waste management; although there were many attempts to solve this problem using different means and approaches, they were rather unsuccessful or could have worked better. The example that best fits this situation would be the "Trash crisis" that Lebanon went through this year - and still recovering from the damages that were left behind.
As soon as this waste management problem came knocking on our door, we knew that something had to be done.
While we were trying to solve this problem, studies showed that sorting from the source would result in a recycling process that would be more efficient. (Coming back to Lebanon), many attempts on initiating an at home recycling program were made by Sukleen. The company proposed to distribute recycling bins and trash bags every month to every household to then collect the bags frequently, but these attempts were unsuccessful due to the unresponsiveness of the Lebanese people. In Europe and the United States, many countries do have a "from the source" recycling program; however, using four regular trash bins was proved to be inefficient as well due to the fact that a negligible percentage of trash was being recycled properly, and the rest of the population does not care to recycle, thus perishes all efforts done by people who do sort. Trash bins that are misused in public places and the amount of money spent by governments in order to control the recycling program transform it to even more of a problem.
Thus, our plan consists of initiating the most efficient and effective "from the source" recycling program by building and implementing a trash can that automatically sorts and is at the same time commercial and affordable by people of all classes.
Therefore, we came up with the idea of Smart Trash Can, which is an automated, compact,affordable trash can for public and home use that integrates echo technology to separate trash automatically from the source. Basically, Smart Trash Can replaces four regular trash bins, whether they are at home or in public places, to separate organics, plastics, metals and glass and eliminates completely the need of huge sorting plants that are notably inefficient and still use labor to sort trash.
This project has been initiated at the American University of Beirut by us as a final year project, it took almost a year to built the first prototype due to engineering complexity. As for accuracy, tests showed an error of 5 to 10 by weight of the trash tested. In addition, it won Darwazah Innovation Contest at the American University of Beirut and a finalist candidate for another awards.