An app to tackle plastic waste issues and Proper waste disposal

Project Overview

Luca Schernbeck’s Final Year Project was focusing on tackling plastic waste issues with a human-centered design approach. After two semesters filled with research, reporting and designing, the app idea SILVA was created.


Within recent years it is noticeable how the focus on plastic waste has increased. Social media and media coverage in general on the topics of plastic have risen and the awareness in the general public seems bigger as well. The European Union has signed off a single-use plastic ban which will become effective in 2021, banning plastic cutlery, straws, cotton buds and more completely. The human-centred design approach will be able to offer a potential solution to some of the issues with plastic that endanger our environment.


Currently we as a society are facing great environmental problems that are fundamentally influenced by our habits related to plastic waste. Micro-plastics are polluting the oceans and packaging materials are covering our streets. These developments have have been noticed and not only governments are trying to tackle these issues now, more and more individuals are embracing a greener lifestyle in order to make a change for the environment. To fuel this green wave of change a human-centered design approach might be able to offer assistance.


I conducted an extensive research phase in which I familiarized myself with relevant literature, analysed already implemented products and carried out empirical investigations.

The literature review helped me to pinpoint the most relevant issues – plastic packaging materials. Especially food packaging from grocery stores are cheap in production cost and have a high longevity, yet the lifespan of them from a consumer perspective is very short.

When analyzing already implemented products I was able to find digital assistants that aim at motivating and educating users on the issues with plastic waste.

As this was a human-centered design approach it was vital to carry out extensive empirical research, which was done through interviews, an online survey and observations. With the help of these research methodologies I was able to define key figures and find out about their habits and knowledge regarding plastic waste.


After careful consideration I decided to play my cards right and focused on a screen-based design as I have gathered a lot of experience and confidence in this field. However, both early ideas had strong influences on the defined features for this smartphone application.

The main functionalities of the app would be identifying products and finding out about how to dispose them correctly. To ensure that this digital assistant is always up-to-date, users would be able to register products into the database. Furthermore, by offering plastic-free or eco-friendly alternatives to common products, I was hoping to encourage users to change their plastic diets.

Some other features I planned were a reward system or gamification that would encourage the users to use the application regularly and contribute to the community. I envisioned this to be done by letting the users take care of a virtual tree. This tree would be watered based on the user’s contribution and usage of the application. To ensure that users would be motivated on a long-term base to use the application I included the #Tree4Tree feature. This meant that the user could check his water progress and once he or she reached a certain level, the application would send real tree seeds of the corresponding tree to the user’s address. This would bring the digital experience to life.

Name: Luca Schernbeck

Email: luca dot schernbeck at gmail dot com

Website: www dot lucaschernbeck dot com




Clickable Prototype:

Video prototype:

Date Published:
Tuesday, 31 August 2021