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23 May 2018

 

Earlier this month the creative technology company, Rehab, launched ‘Recycle That!’, a new Google Home voice skill designed to help take the confusion out of recycling.

 

The new voice skill will allow users to ask their Google Home device which items can be recycled, helping to combat one of the biggest challenges of the UK recycling industry, educating homeowners around what can and cannot go in the recycling bin.

 

The app has been created in response to the EU’s ambitious target of recycling 50% of household waste by 2020. By giving people a hands-free, instant answer to queries around waste, the app creators hope that people will recycle items that would otherwise go to landfill.

 

Matt Tyrie, Operations Director at J&B Recycling, said: “The waste management industry is constantly investing in the development of plant equipment and looking at how technology can be used to improve the quality of throughput.

 

“Yet they’re missing the point that the best way to improve the end product quality is to invest in communicating with businesses and households to ensure that the waste that enters the plant is correct in the first place.

 

“This new voice skill will help with the communication of information of what is recyclable and what is not, as correct segregation at the source and educating the public to prevent contamination in the first place can be just as effective, if not more.”

 

Even though the new Recycle That! voice skilled is designed to increase public awareness of what household waste can and cannot be recycled, Mark Penny, J&B’s Commercial Manager has identified some potential issues with the technology which could lead to mixed messages.

 

He said: "J&B looks after the processing of kerbside waste for a number of councils across the country, with differing collection methods and specification of what material is allowed.

 

For example, some councils offer fully comingled recycling, others offer comingled without glass, with the glass going into a separate container. Some allow carrier bags whereas some prohibit them.

 

“Is the voice skill intelligent enough to know from your location which local authority will be collecting your waste, their collection method and what that particular authority allows and does not allow in the recycling? If it did how would the voice skill be kept up to date if this changed.”

 

"Anything towards educating the public on what they can and can't recycle I am completely in favour of, however when the app hits the UK, I think it’s something they have to be very careful of and ensure they work with local councils to make sure they're giving the correct information."

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