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Toss-It Resident Application

Creating monetary value in plastic waste for New Yorkers


Project Overview

Toss-It ia a service that translates plastic waste into real money, it aims to solve the plastic waste crisis by helping New Yorkers become instruments of change for the environment.

Challenge: To visualize and build a business case of a profitable business with sustainability at its core.


Soumil Panwar


6 Weeks


Product Design, User Research,

Venture Design

Problems with Plastic Waste Recycling Systems

Plastic is a household commodity that is damaging the planet. The core challenge lies in human behavior of conscious consumption and the lack of foresight to see plastic waste as a resource.

1.3 Billion Plastic bottles are consumed every day, of which only 8.7% are recycled.

01. Realizing Value in Plastic Waste

Most plastic waste has the potential to be recycled and regain some value. Lack of on-source segregation and access to recycling infrastructure makes this reverse supply chain a challenge.

02. Greenwashing to Establish Sustainable Operation

Global brands are joining forces to claim the use of recycled plastics in their production. While these claims have historically proven to be a hoax, there exist concious brands that genuinely support the cause and work towards fighting plastic waste chrisis.

Black Rock

What if, a service could provide excieting rewards to
New Yorkers to sell their plastic waste by supporting environmentally concious brands and businesses?

New Yorkers


Conscious Brands

Creating the Service for Toss-It

Imagine a future state where a massive behavioral change can be brought about by changing the outlook on plastic waste where New Yorkers see monetary value in their plastic waste and become conscious of disposal. In order to start building this service, I realized through research the potential of connecting apartment complexes in NYC with these sustainable brands. 

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Sustainable brands

Brands that consume recycled plastic waste in their manufacturing processes. 

Their Intent: Position themself as an environmentally conscious brand


Providing raw material for production in the form of recycled plastic and access to a community of aware New Yorkers that are direct customers of these brands.

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Apartment Complexes

Modern housing complexes are trying to provide added amenities to its residents.

Their Intent: Sell amenities as additional luxuries and justify high rent prices in NYC


Providing an additional amenity for residents and a simple way of managing plastic waste while associating as an environment-conscious residential community.

System Map

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Toss-It can be imagined as a service that places Toss-It bins in apartment complexes to collect plastic waste and sell to sustainable brands. In return, New Yorkers are rewarded with money proportional to the plastic they sell and brand vouchers from the sustainable brands they support and like.

Use Case Scenario

Toss-It users would be agnostic of a persona and would be aware residents who care about the planet. Taking the example of Sam, the user, the user flow below shows how Sam would interact with the service.

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Design Principles for Toss-It Resident Mobile App

The users would be able to access the service through a mobile app. This app is based on fundamental design principles as guiding lights which brought user centricity in my approach and ensured that the app brings a genuine connection with sustainability.


1. Empowering Through Recognition

Empowering users with real-time feedback and celebration of achievements to make recycling joyful.


2. Seamless Recycling Experience

Simple and intuitive UI ensures easy recycling with minimal steps and seamless navigation.

User Flow Diagram

A step-by-step user flow ensures that users can navigate through the app seamlessly, receive real-time feedback on their recycling efforts, and easily access resources to enhance their experience with Toss-It.



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I explored various ideas to bring the interaction to life. These ideas were then tested at an early stage with 12 users to understand possible blockers before final design development.

Toss-It Resident Mobile App

After user testing wireframes with users, I realized that primary tasks with this app would be to sell plastic waste, track rewards and use rewards. With this focus, I came up with a concept for the Toss-It Resident app. 

1. Onboarding Wizard

The app guides users through a seamless onboarding process, explaining how the app works and bringing awareness of the potential value plastic waste has. Users understand the possibility of making money with their household waste. A Toss-It account is created as a family unit with individual members having access to the same account.

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2. Toss-It Dashboard

The app allows people to effortlessly visualize the amount of plastic waste they have recycled and the associated rewards at any given moment. With personalized recycling targets based on your family size and the current month, Toss-It inspires users to achieve eco-friendly goals and go the extra mile for the environment. Users cal invite their neighbors to join Toss-It in order to strengthen the community. Simple, intuitive navigation helps users to access and redeem their rewards.


3. Selling Waste: Instructional Guide for First Time Users

A user-friendly information illustration simplifies getting started and guides users on how to access the service. Users are given clear instructions of how to operate Toss-It bins, where to deposit plastic waste and how to collect rewards. With an intuitive instructional layer, we tried to reduce entry barriers to the service.

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4. Reward Catalog 

Users access their rewards by choosing brands they would like to redeem vouchers from and unlock these over time with their plastic waste. Unlocked vouchers can be used for online and in-person shopping with partner brands. We chose to give users the autonomy to choose rewards to cater to individual needs. This way of receiving rewards as brand vouchers helps users realize an additional potential in their plastic waste and helps the service position their brand in the sustainable business space.

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5. Unlocking Rewards

A proportion of rewards are given as direct cash deposits in Toss-It cards that users can access in their card wallets and simply use in stores with a tap. This way of diversifying rewards was done for people to be able to use money that they earn for plastic instantly without having to wait for vouchers to be unlocked.

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5. Toss-It Community

The user can see their rewards compared to residents in their building and receive achievement badges. Over time this was designed to promote healthy recycling habits and a sense of agency among residents.


5. Using the Toss-It Card

Users can simply tap and use rewards from their Toss-It cards similar to any other credit card. They could even choose to receive a physical card by mail.

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Risk Assessment of External Factors Affecting the Service

Real estate markets are investing in lucrative services such as coffee kiosks, co-working spaces, recreational spaces. It might become challenging to compete with those for real estate for the Toss-It bin in every building specially because lobbies are getting smaller by the day.


Toss-It bins could be co-designed for a pertnership to act as a point of sale investment for parallel services in apartment complexes. As a service, Toss-It could launch as partners for sustainable brands to be positioned within apartment complexes.


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Sprints + Design Thinking = Magic

Agile methodologies have the benefit of bringing outcomes faster and having tangible starting points. Leveraging design in these micro stages/ sprints can bring out the most value in a project while meeting hard deadlines and resource constraints.

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Pivoting is the key to Innovation

Starting a design project with an end outcome in mind narrows down possibilities. Pivoting a concept to new markets and target users help making the solution robust and effective while improving on the weak elements in the concept.

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