My Role

UX Designer


3 Designers


Research to Mid Fidelity



We wanted to target the right audience with our research and ultimately our app, so we created a survey on Google Forms and shared it as widely as possible via social media.

51 total individuals responded. 55% of respondents were Millennials, and 64% of them live in urban communities. We focused on urban Millennials for an MVP.


We conducted 5 user interviews that fit our target audience. We found that users generally believe that recycling is a good habit to have. However, confusing informational websites and changing recycling regulations present fundamental challenges to knowing if items are recyclable.

Sometimes users toss items in the recycling without knowing if it’s actually recyclable.

72% of respondents

said they would use an app to help them make more effective recycling choices.

62% of respondents

think positive recycling practices thrive with continuing education programs.

100% of interviewees

said that knowing what to recycle is the biggest obstacle they face when deciding to recycle or not.

3 of 5 interviewees

expressed doubt about the effectiveness of recycling and their personal impact on the environment.



"As an environmentally conscious Millennial, I want to know what is recyclable and how to recycle it so I can feel that I’m reducing my negative environmental impact."

User Persona: Samantha Powers

Samantha Powers

Philadelphia, PA

32, She/Her

  • Wants to reduce harmful environmental impact
  • Learning the right way to dispose of certain items can be a hassle
  • Decides if something is recyclable in the moment
UX Scenario

Samantha orders delivery for dinner and wants to discard the plastic bag it was delivered in. She doesn’t want to throw it away, but doesn’t know if it’s accepted in her recycling. She uses Recycle Easy to take a photo of the item and the app tells her whether the item is recyclable. Samantha finds out how she can conveniently drop off the item to be recycled, and feels great that she used Recycle Easy.

Samantha's Journey


What if...

We imagined a wide variety of solutions including:

  • Uber for recycling
  • Getting recommendations for good recycling places
  • Take a photo of your item and let the app figure it out
Ideating with I Like, I wish, What if


Based on our research, we knew we would have to make this as easy as possible while also keeping it informative. We created a 2x2 matrix of our best ideas and felt the photo feature would be the easiest for users to learn what to do with their items.

Prioritizing features for a quick sprint The features for Recycle Easy v1


User Flow



Each team member sketched ideas for how the app might look and work based on our research and User Flow. My sketches below represent the basic home screen layout and the camera experience.

Home Screen Sketch
Camera Version 1 Sketch
 Photo Result Sketch
How to Recycle Sketch


We then discussed which sections to build into wireframes for usability tests. Our critera for success was anticipated ease of use and, with our limited timeline, ease to build. To facilitate a quick build, we used a UI kit from Figma.



We asked our users to complete 5 tasks:

  • Register and complete onboarding
  • Identify items with photo
  • Identify items with search
  • Correct misidentified item
  • Find info for drop-off location


We found a few repeated opportunites to improve Recycle Easy:

  • The original name of the app—Recycleasy—was impossible for people to understand
  • Users hesitaed to swipe up to get to the camera
  • "Common Items" copy was confusing
  • Users liked all the information displayed on informational pages, but commented that it was a lot of text
  • Some screens had inconsistent navigation to previous screens


We used the feedback from our usability tests to inform our revisions as we moved into the mid-fidelity stage. A 2x2 impact/effort matrix helped us identify which features we would realistically be able to address in our limited timeframe.

Changes to Item ID Page Changes to Item ID Page Changes to Photo Taken Page Changes to Photo Taken Page

Next Steps

We received very positive feedback for this concept. Many individuals at our presentation experienced some of the same struggles with recycling, indicating some degree of success in defining our problem. Notably, one potential user who has lived in two island nations in Asia and in the Caribbean shared that these nations see the effects of pollution more quickly and tangibly as it washes up on their shores.

As we continue to iterate this project, we would like to refine some of our existing features and introduce new ones to make recycling easier. The challenges we will take on next include:

More Work