Brisbane to pilot new Recycle Mate app

10 September 2021

Recycling enthusiasts in Brisbane have been selected to pilot and help improve a new app that will tell every Australian, no matter where in Australia they live or travel to, how to recycle correctly.

The new Recycle Mate app will be piloted in Brisbane in the leadup to the national launch of the app at the end of the month. The Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans today called on the Brisbane community to test drive the new app and play a part in helping Australia get its recycling right.

“This cutting edge new app, developed by Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) is Australia’s first photo recognition recycling app,” Minister Evans said. “Users photograph an item and then immediately find out where it can be recycled, refurbished or disposed of, based on their geolocation.

“Brisbane now has a unique opportunity to help shape and inform Australia’s first community driven recycling app.  The app already contains the information that recyclers think the community wants to know, and now is the opportunity for the Brisbane community to provide their feedback on recycling.

“I encourage all Brisbane residents to download the app and test it out. This will help the developers get it right for the rest of Australia and help us reduce our waste,” Minister Evans said.

Suzanne Toumbourou, CEO of the Australia Council of Recycling (ACOR) said the Brisbane community was being asked to join this national recycling initiative by using the app.

“The app’s artificial intelligence is trained every time someone uploads a photo to the Recycle Mate database, continually improving the program. Australians have a proven desire to recycle correctly and reduce what goes to landfill, but often feel unsure if they are always getting it right,” said Ms Toumbourou. “This app will contribute to helping all Australians recycle better.

Brisbane Civic Cabinet City Standards Chair Kim Marx said Brisbane residents were already taking steps to reduce waste to landfill and the free Recycle Mate app would boost their efforts. 

“Brisbane residents have demonstrated that they’re working hard to improve their recycling habits and this handy app will help take the guesswork out of recycling everyday household items,” Cr Marx said.

“Since 2012, our residents have reduced the percentage of recyclables being incorrectly disposed of in household rubbish bins to 15% in 2020, down from 28%. 

“It’s fantastic to see Brisbane residents be some of the first in Australia to pilot this cutting-edge photo recognition technology, so I want to see as many people as possible jump on their phones and download the app so we can show how clean and green our city really is.”

Assistant Minister Evans said that getting the app right is important in helping Australia move to a circular economy in which when a product is no longer useful or required for its initial purpose, it is either reused, remanufactured or recycled for use in another product or process.

“When Australians get their recycling right, it helps us to recycle more of our waste resources so that they can be processed and made into valuable new products, as well as protecting our unique environment by keeping our waste out of landfill.

“Another major benefit is that the app helps us avoid contamination and wish cycling. Contamination occurs when materials are sorted into the wrong recycling bin and can lead to recycling resources being sent to landfill. Wish cycling is when people simply throw something into the recycling bin, and contaminate it, in the hope that it can be recycled.  

“The new RecycleMate app will help make sure that we dispose of products properly all the time, no matter where we are. Every question asked and every photo taken by app users provides feedback about what the community wants to know about recycling and helps the program to continually grow,” said Minister Evans.

Recycle Mate is an initiative of the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) with $2 million in funding support from the Australian Government’s Environment Restoration Fund program. Adaptation Environmental Support (Adaptation) is the program delivery partner.

To download the app, Brisbane residents can go to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.