Trash Tycoon: Gamifying Recycling

Games have great potential to educate people and encourage them to solve large-scale social problems. An obvious example was World Without Oil, which required players to work together on simple, practical ways to adapt to a world without oil. The value of the game was to get players to apply collective intelligence and imagination to develop realistic, alternative solutions to dependence on oil.

More recently less-ambitious Facebook games like Trash Tycoon are trying to educate and change people’s behaviours in relation to reducing waste and recycling. Players have to clean their city by collecting piles of litter, create fertilizer, learn what can be composted and what can be upcycled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is interesting is that Trash Tycoon is an initiative by TerraCycle, a fertilizer company that also produces products made from recycled materials. In order for TerraCycle to continue growing they need more people to recycle so Trash Tycoon enables them to increase awareness about both the environmental benefits and uses of recycled materials and expand awareness about TerraCycle.

It is not going to nudge people to make a holistic change in their recycling / waste management behaviour, but it will at least make people aware of how products can be used after we finish them. It will hopefully make us think before throwing things away, but stronger incentives are needed to solve waste problems.

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