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An App to Find Illegally Dumped Trash

Ben Schiller - Co.Exist
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September 8, 2012
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TrashOut is environmental project, that deals with illegal dumps all around the world. (TrashOut.me)

Are people putting trash where they’re not supposed to? Now you can collect all the data you need with your phone to get it cleaned up.

Jozef Vodicka says he came up with the idea of TrashOut--an app and web site that lets you locate illegal dumps--after studying at universities in Finland and Singapore. He says he wanted "every country to be as clean as Finland or Singapore".

His idea is simple: when you see trash somewhere, open the app, take a picture, describe the scene, and then map it for everyone to see. Later, TrashOut will send you updates telling you about clean-up efforts, and create a report when the dump has been cleared.

The service is aimed at local governments and nonprofits, as well as individuals. "We hope they will decrease costs and time spent on finding and cleaning illegal dumps, because of all the information TrashOut can provide," Vodicka, who is from Slovakia, says.

The Slovakian branch of Greenpeace was the first organization to use the service, before municipalities also took it up, and groups from other countries followed (there are English, German, Spanish, Slovak and Czech versions). Altogether, about 1,200 illegal dumps have been reported since the first prototype went live.

"There are illegal dumps in nearly every city or state, but the problem is that we don’t know where they are," Vodicka says. "The idea is to show where the illegal dump is, to show people how big the problem is, and trigger prevention."

Ben Schiller is a staff writer for Co.Exist, and also contributes to the FT, and Yale e360.

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