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MEDIA RELEASE - Hacking the waste crisis

16 September 2019

Fixing the community’s waste woes and improving recycling behaviour have been the focus of Glenelg Shire Council’s first hackathon experience.

Digital Glenelg lead Emma Van Smale joined fellow municipalities from across the state and leaders in government, business and academia for the two-day annual hackathon hosted by the Municipal Association of Victoria in Ballarat earlier this month.

The session culminated in a pitch day at RMIT Melbourne last week providing relevant concepts which can be implemented, inspiring change at both a local government and industry level.

Ms Van Smale said her working group focused on how local government could collaborate and provide “quality, discoverable and consumable data in an effort to support the community in generating less waste”.

"A hackathon is a really intense process of understanding the problem and moving through a framework of empathising, ideating, validating and testing concepts with the aim of creating a solid solution that is desirable, viable and feasible” she said.

“Our team came up with some visionary ideas and some ideal solutions, but the design thinking framework we used aims to create solutions that can actually be developed into a proof of concept or to minimal viable product stage.

“We looked at the key parts of the end-to-end waste management process, the barriers and constraints facing the industry and took a realistic lens to what areas we could actually influence or change. We went through some key decision points along the way and decided to focus on customer facing data consumption as opposed to industry data collection and the waste generation aspect over the waste lifecycle”.

To create the end solution, Ms Van Smale’s team worked with waste experts and community members researching current data to form their final pitch titled My Impact.

It focused on the relationship between individual small actions and the resulting waste impact, such as the use of plastic throwaway drinking containers.

“A basic example is simply refilling a reusable water bottle or coffee cup. People can join an individual challenge to do so, and are able to see how many people in their community are doing the same, and we can validate the collective impact,” she said.

“For example, 10,000 bottles reduced could be 130 kilograms saved from landfill and a community saving of $30,000. We want people to connect with what that might mean for their local community.

The solution could be extended in many ways like being used for Local Government target campaigns or business and group challenges ... all it needs is quality and visible data. Sharing data creates change.”

Ms Van Smale encouraged people wanting to learn more about the Hackathon process at the Digital Glenelg Facebook chat group or see the event promotional video.


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