Letter of Intent
Project Size: 
Large, >$1,000
Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: 
$6,500
Letter of Intent: 

Hi, my name is William Zhou, I’m currently a junior at the University of Washington, and I’ve been working on an environmentally friendly, consumer-facing, software start up. Our start up consists of two additional students, a Math/EE major at UW and a Computer Science/Biology major at the University of Chicago.  Over the past few months we’ve developed a software called the EcoTab, an iOS software specialized for the iPad. Our product is essentially an educational tablet software designed to be mounted in front of waste containers. It tells a customer what is and isn't recyclable, compostable, or goes into the garbage based on what the venue or enterprise sells and provides. After a customer successfully navigates through the software, at the end it provides feedback on what their waste savings are based on their contribution (CO2, Energy and Space saved). We work personally with each client to index and determine where every item they provide belongs in the waste stream and weigh the items to determine what the environmental savings of properly disposing it are. 

1.     We feel that the key to success is providing educational knowledge to students and consumers on how to properly dispose of their waste. After discussing with UW Recycling and CSF memebers we feel as of currently, those needs are not being met, especially in regards to efforts of educating transplants and the educational community.

2.     This project is currently spearheaded by another student and me. We have done all the business development and created all of the software from scratch. We will continue to develop our relationship with HFS in order to bring this tool to the dorms, cafes, and restaurants on campus.

3.     Through using our software, we can empower students with the proper resources to accurately reduce our campus waste output and push towards a more sustainable waste quota.

4.     Currently working with HFS, we are approved to put our software up in several on campus facilities, including but not limited to McMahon 8, LocalPoint, Mercer Café, Start Up Hall, and the HUB. Our goal is to get out this pilot to see if students effectively engage with our waste information system.
Our cost breakdown:
6 x iPad Air 2: 6 * $550 = $3300
6 x iPad Kiosks: 6 * $330 = $1980
Estimated Installation costs: $500
Server costs and maintenance: $720

We are currently shooting for a one month pilot. If the pilot succeeds and aligns with HFS’s vision we will apply for a second round of hardware. HFS will then pick up the future server and maintenance costs. There is a lot of wiggle room and room for discussion regarding this letter of intent, so I look forward to discussing details moving forward.

Contact Information
Primary Contact First & Last Name: 
William Zhou
E-mail: 
wjzhou@uw.edu
Full Proposal

This will display after the CSF committee has reviewed and approved your LOI, and after you have received the link to edit your application.

Executive Summary: 

We are looking to bring an educational digital waste streams solution to campus. Designed to be mounted in front of waste receptacles, we've created an engaging software for iOS that allows for users to come up and look up where their waste belongs. After users select whatever they have in hand, they'll be provided the accurate information of where each piece goes, whether its recyclable, compostable, or trashable. 

For example, if you have a coffee cup from By George, users will select the image, and it will take you to an item breakdown, telling you exactly where the cup, sleeve, lid, and where any other pieces go, essentialy simplifying their process. After users have selected the item, it will also provide the users what the ecosavings of their contribution is, (how much CO2, Landfill Space, and Energy they've saved.)

For this pilot launch (potentially 3 months, could be longer or shorter), HFS has agreed to set up units at McMahon, HUB, LocalPoint, Mercer Café 815, Rotunda and By George. We'll initially just set up one unit for the first week, check for kinks and potential hazards, and then we'll bring them to other sites. We'll take an index of all the items that HFS provides and sells to students at every specific venues and then upload it to our databases.

Recently, PACCAR has acquired a new electronic waste system, within their research and partnership with UW Garbology and UW Recycling, they had discovered that 48% percent of waste on campus was incorrectly placed. "After the installation in PACCAR was placed above the bins, incorrectly sorted waste levels dropped to 40 percent, an 8 percent decrease. Additionally, the amount of waste that was correctly diverted from landfills rose ten percent, from 46 percent to 56 percent." What we're looking to do is take this to 6 high traffic food sites, and add the ability for students to interact with it.

On top of this, we've recently launched a seperate pilot with the Space Needle, and have been seeing success of several hundreds of uses per day through our analytics unit.

Total amount requested from the CSF: 
$13 694
This funding request is a: 
Grant
Budget: 
ItemCost per ItemQuantityTotal Cost
iPad Pro and Kiosk stand and case bundle$1519.006$9114.00
Shipping and handling of iPads and Kiosks$459.62N/A$459.62
Estimated installation costs including cords, cables, tapes, locks and potential outside labor costs$500N/A$500.00
Estimated Amazon Webservices and Heroku cloud server costs and maintanence for the backend databases$1220Over the course of the 3 month pilot launch$1220.00
Stipend for 3 months$8003$2400.00
Project Completion Total: 
$13 694
Sustainability Impact: 
Energy Use
Food
Waste
Environmental Justice
Sustainability Challenge: 

The environmental problem that we are addressing is one that Americans face every single day. How do we better the environment and reduce our waste footprint? There are an infinite number of upsetting statistics to cite, such as the one earlier, regarding how ineffecient we currently are with our waste management, but what I'm going to cite, is how waste infrastructure is effective.

Waste streams infrastructure creates tangible changes:

When the University of Washington introduced Minimax containers into 60% of building, 1251.59 tons of food waste were diverted from Academic and facilities buildings on campus, and $674,387 in disposal costs were saved due to the waste diversion through recycling and composting.

When the University of Washington introduced the Animated Waste Display in one building, they immediately saw an 8% waste reduction on site. According to their study, when no signage was added, the bins did not impact regular waste disposal behavior.

According to the recap of Recyclemania, Brenda Pulley, Vice President of 'Keep America Beautiful' “Research shows people are more likely to recycle when they see it as part of the culture around them,”

Simply put, we want to reduce the amount of misappropriated waste that gets thrown into incorrect containers. By doing so, we will increase the rate of materials that are properly recycled and composted, and decrease the amount of waste that is unecessarily trashed.

Our project seeks to combat this misappropriation of waste both directly and indirectly. Through the educational aspect of the electronic waste guide system, students can properly learn of how to dispose of their garbage, which is especially important for Seattle Transplants, as many other cities and states do not emphasize the importance of proper waste reduction. Students, faculty, and visitors can easily educate themselves in a short amount of time on a relatable tablet format. Indirectly speaking, we see this as an investment in a new generation/era of waste disposal infrastructure. It's an opportunity for our community to be the leaders of a new clean tech movement, and for young leaders to empower generations of old and new. 

Billions of dollars are spent into waste sorting facilities, which if given additional thought, is a reactive approach to correct garbage disposal. With this in mind, minimal effort has been put into a proactive approach, the education of consumers; when people correctly sort their own waste.

Explain how the impacts will be measured: 

The EcoTab actually estimates the environmental impact of the properly recycled/composted goods that are provided on site. Asssuming that a user properly disposes of their waste according to the icons, a user can then confirm their waste selection, and are taken to the last page which is an EcoSavings page, where they can discover their own contribution to reducing CO2, Energy, and Landfill space. They can also explore how much total CO2, Energy, and Landfill space a venue has saved over the course of: one day, one week, one month, and one year.

We determine these estimates by weighing and massing every single item that is provided by HFS, e.g. compostable napkins, cups, utensils, plastic packaging etc. We then use waste savings rates and conversions of different materials when properly recycled, ie: plastic, aluminum, paper etc, which are provided by the comprehensive waste management company "Waste Management Inc," in order to accurately estimate the grams of CO2 reduced, the kilowatt hours of energy saved, and the volume of area saved by proper waste disposal. 

Education & Outreach: 

Our project will be publicized to campus by connecting with different on campus resources through mediums such as different tabling events, the actual physical units, and proper media coverage. 

If our project does get approved, we will reach out to the leaders of the aforementioned RSO's and faculty and discuss the opportunities available in order to broaden on-campus student awareness. From a media perspective, we're well connected with the Daily and look to have an extended piece about the new infrastructure on campus.

We'll also open conversations with the Marketing/PR/Outreach positions of both HFS and UW Recycling. We expect some success with additional media outlets such as the "Seattle Times" as they could be interested in covering a large piece about this new electronic waste guide due to our close relationship with the Seattle Public Utilities and our successful beta launch at the Seattle Space Needle.

Our outreach goals are to not only inform students and faculty of this new clean tech solution, but to encourage and excite the people of Seattle with new and easy ways to access the information of where their waste goes. We believe that as technology moves forward in many different ways, consumer facing clean tech is often absent. We want to bring something that everyday people can harness and learn from. We want to show that the University of Washington is not only a sustainable university, but a university that innovates to achieve better results.

While there are a lot of extra features and value adds on the EcoTab, the focus is for students, faculty, and visitors to properly dispose of their waste in the correct manner. It should be understood that this is a tool that will help train current and new students in properly disposing of their garbage. We don't expect this to be a tool that a student will go up to every single day, or a tool a student will access every single time they throw something away, but we see this as a tool where once a student accesses it, they can have a quick and memorable learning experience that will carry on the next time they have the same waste.

Student Involvement: 

Student involvement in this project is segmented in a few different aspects with variance in participation. 

Project Leads:

Benjamin and I are responsible for the software design and the building of the product itself. We've built it from scratch and will continue to focus on the technical development, item indexing, and communication between different University departments.

Ari, our other project lead, will be focused on developing the proper marketing and framing of this project so that we can have proper media coverage, promoting the University and proper waste disposal.

The three of us will  have the task of observing and interacting with students in order figuring out how to attract more users and innovate through different types of research and development, as well as testing phases to maximize the impact. We'll constantly be tinkering the software over the duration of the pilot launch and increasing the number of items we support.

Students Clubs, RSO's and Departments:

A key aspect of this project will be promoting awareness of recycling on campus. While the EcoTab is a tool to help users figure out where their waste goes, in order to reach our goal of reducing improper waste, we have to both inform students of the importance of recycling, as well as what tools are available for them to do so. 

Tabling with different RSO's and departments will successfully allow us to reach out to students and inform them of what tools are out there for them. 

We've opened conversations with students at UW Recycling, and look to include and partner with students and leaders of RSO's "Green Husky Coalition," Students Expressing Environmental Dedication," and "EcoReps" to discuss different strategies and plans of action to promote several different tabling events throughout campus with the goal of promoting recycling.

Professors and Faculty

We'll also be looking to seek advice from the team that created the Animated Waste Display including:

Karen Cheng and Kristine Matthews, professor and assistant professor, respectively, of the Visual Communication Design Program in the School of Art + Art History + Design.

Anthropology professor Peter Lape and doctoral candidate Jack Johnson to study the installation's potential impact.

 

 

Timeline: 
TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Index all the items provided by HFS and upload to databases1.5-2 weeksWe can start this as soon as the application is approved
Meetings with different RSOs to do tabling events1 week
Tabling eventsTBD
Media outlets and coverageTBD
Shipping of iPads and KiosksTBD
Installation once materials arrive1 week
One unit launch1 week
Second unit launch1 week
Full launch with all units3 months
Year Tag: 
Amount Awarded: 
$13,694
Potential Funding Reductions: 
I believe our total grant request may be slightly perhaps 5% above what the actual cost may be due to the estimates of servers and additional materials/installation complications, so if we were to cut it would begin there. If the cuts were either 10% or 20% then we would start reducing the number of iPad and Kiosk units one by one.
Project Longevity: 

The long term management and maintenance of this project will be managed by me, William Zhou, and the other project leads. We will be in close communication with HFS, CSF, and UW Recycling throughout the entirety of the project and beyond. If the pilot launch is successful, then two things may happen. If we reach an agreement with HFS post pilot, then we will create a software license for HFS and they will pick up any long term or month to month costs associated to keep the service running. In the future, if the product is deemed successful and useful by the parties involved, then we will reapply for additional units to be placed in more areas on campus.

****I was asked to address these additional questions via email

Address the following committee feedback in your final proposal:
· Have you explored lower cost alternatives to ipads?
Unfortunately, our code is written all in "Swift" the native language for iOS, which has taken us 6 months to develop. But yes, we did consider this in the beginning of the project, however, we decided to forego any other platforms such as Android for a few reasons.
1. Android hardware (tablets) have no standard, and have many different variations on screen size, and performance between different models. In our experience, units of the same model also seem to have more inconsistencies on processing ability, longevity, and battery life.
2. iPads were/are the most popular tablets, and because the EcoTab is built for ease of use, we decided to go with the most familiar model to end-users.
3. Part of the value in this project is that we will be continuously updating the software to improve it's usability. Many lower cost alternatives to the iPad Air 2 will either no longer have support for updating their operating system, which means we won't be able to update the software itself, or, the hardware within the product will no longer be able to run the operating system smoothly, meaning we'll have poor performance for the software.

· What is the longevity of this project? What happens to the ipads after the month trial period?
Depending on when we'll be able to get everything set up, and the timing of summer quarter, the pilot may end up running for longer than a month long period. However, assuming that we fail to reach an agreement with HFS, the iPads and kiosks can easily be donated to Kane Hall and repurposed for students to check out and borrow. They can be used for future events or projects, and provide an easy format for surveys or other programs. These kiosks will be University of Washington branded.

· Will the software be licensed to UW or sold to UW?
If the pilot is successful and we reach an agreement with HFS, then we will most likely create a software license agreement with HFS.
· If successful, what is your plan to expand?
If successful and all things go as intended, we'll look to reapply to the CSF grant for more units around campus, and perhaps bring it to other universities in the future.

Project status: 
In progress, accepting volunteers