Not a beginner — Not a comfortable intermediate — and certainly never done

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The Trash Panda - Recycling Made Easy

07 Mar 2020

Trevor Clack

I’m very proud to present The Trash Panda

This post will highlight what the app can do and the team. You can read about some of the more technical aspects here

The Trash Panda is a Progressive Web App (PWA) designed to make proper recycling easy and quick. Recycling can be confusing in part due to the variation in local laws. Some areas accept plastic bags in their curbside bins while others do not. Most of us know (or should know) that paint is hazardous and can’t be tossed in the trash, but it can be annoying to look it up. Even worse, individuals who over recycle, putting everything even remotely plastic in their recycle bin and so unintentionally make poor decisions.

The Trash Panda aims at tackling each of these problems by providing local disposal information. It aims to save time and reduce frustration by finding information through a search bar, category exploration or a trained computer vision AI that interacts with your phones camera (or web cam for those accessing it on desktop).

The Trash Panda App can be set as an app shortcut by visiting the site. (Note: iOS users will have to use the safari browser because it’s less strict with camera permissions). It can also be found on the Google Play Store for Android users. Search for “thetrashpanda”

Trash Panda can be downloaded from the Google Play Store

The vision that started it

This was a late submission (2 weeks past the deadline…) but it was accepted on a Thursday evening and the team was created the upcoming Monday. 2 UI/UX designers, 4 data scientists (myself among them) and 4 web developers. Funny enough, no one on the web team actually chose the project, it wasn’t even listed as an option. Probably my fault, because I overwrote the default selection to allow for “iOS, Android, Data Science, UI/UX” since I was pushing this to be a mobile project.

Some intermediate progress

A brief look at the app during various stages of production


First a succinct 5 minute walk-through

Next a cohort presentation

Finally a school wide presentation

The Trash Panda Family

The Development Team

Here are the relevant write-ups by the other members of the trash panda team. Without their talent and enthusiasm, this project would have been relegated to my “cool idea” junkyard.

Data Science

Timothy Hsu - project writeup

Tobias Reaper - project writeup

Vera Mendes - project writeup


Mark Artishuk - portfolio

Mark Halls

Colin Bazzano

Carlo Lucido


Kendra McKernan - case study

Lynn Baxter - case study

Team Lead

JT Kernan

The Future of Trash Panda

It appears that the project will continue to be developed after a brief 2 month intermission. May through July (2020) it will be picked up by another group of Data Science students and web developers. I will hopefully be continuing as the stakeholder, so I’ll be directing and approving additional features such as the ideas for gamification or user feedback, even providing insights into continuing to develop the model and pipeline. But given that I’ve “moved on” to the next portion of my own learning, I will not be coding as much as overseeing project development.

Regardless if I continue to develop directly or not, it’s a dream for me that this app is widely used. It is and should always continue to be free to use; putting any price on it will add a barrier, but an app that provides some environmental good should never have such barriers. Whatever the future of this app may be, that’s an idea I will continue to hold, both for the Trash Panda and for any related endeavor.