[Futur en Seine] There is no standard procedure for sorting waste in Italy, so Bologna-based startup Giunko set out to develop an app which does all the work using barcodes.

Junker App Automates Waste Sorting

‟In Italy, each city has its own method of sorting waste using its own standards and colour codes,” Giunko CEO Benedetta de Santis explained to the audience at the ‘Futur en Seine’ digital event held in Paris last week. And given that the colour codes and collection times vary from place to place, visitors, new arrivals and tourists in an Italian city find it very confusing trying to figure out which containers they should use, and when. Moreover, some local authorities levy fines if you fail to sort your waste properly. Hence Giunko’s move to develop the app it has named Junker, which geolocates the user and scans product barcodes with a view to enabling people to sort waste properly.

The Junker app is designed to automate waste management

Junker knows in which city a person currently happens to be. Drawing on a large database, the app can then identify the wrapping of some 800,000 products and tell its owner which bin s/he should throw the product waste into. ‟Having a single app for the whole country is a huge advantage for tourists and people moving around,” argues Benedetta de Santis. And, by way of example, her solution is less costly than BigBelly’s automated bins

A boon to both firms and local authorities

But as well as helping ordinary citizens, who can download the app free of charge, Junker is also designed to come to the aid of local authorities and waste-sector firms at a time when Italy’s digital lag is causing concern. ‟The data we gather on waste sorting can help the waste companies improve their services,” explained the Giunko CEO.  With this aim in mind, on top of the basic data collected the app enables users to enter directly into the packaging database recommendations and suggestions on rubbish collection, scheduling and any problems spotted. Basically, by dissipating all doubts about how to dispose of rubbish and automating waste sorting, Giunko is ultimately seeking to reduce the amount of unsorted rubbish collected by the municipality, which then has to be incinerated. 

Teaching people to sort

Benedetta de Santis believes that the automation feature is likely to create greater citizen engagement. When it becomes easier for people to sort waste, it is more likely to become an automatic reaction. So the app also has a teaching purpose. With this in mind, the startup has forged partnerships with schools in Italy to teach children how to sort waste. ‟It’s very educational,” underlines the Giunko CEO. Her company seems to have the wind in its sails. After Italy she intends to expand to the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, and then to France. Reveals de Santis: ‟We’re already in touch with City Hall in Bordeaux to see what can be done there”.

By Guillaume Scifo