Hackaday Prize 2022: BinPal Is A Convenient Recycling Reminder

A fridge magnet with a display showing recycling reminders

While curbside pickup of recyclables is convenient, it does require you to keep track of which type of waste is picked up when: miss the biweekly paper pickup and you’ll soon find yourself stockpiling four weeks’ worth of boxes and newspapers. When [Dominic Buchstaller]’s stack of cardboard began to reach his ceiling, he decided to take action by building himself BinPal: a fridge magnet that helps you remember when to take out which bin.

At heart of the simple but effective BinPal is an ESP32 board that connects to Google Apps Script and retrieves the pickup schedule from Google Calendar. If one of four categories of waste is due for pickup, its icon is highlighted on an LCD screen. The user can press a touch-sensitive button to confirm the bin has been brought out for pickup; if that hasn’t been done by 8 pm, the display’s backlight starts flashing as an additional reminder.

The outer shell of the device is made from laser-cut plywood, with a few strong magnets glued inside to ensure the BinPal stays firmly attached to the fridge. In the true spirit of recycling, [Dominic] used only components that he had in his parts bin to make the BinPal. However, these parts are all easily available online, and with the full schematics and code available on the project’s Hackaday.io page it should be easy to adapt the design to different hardware platforms as well.

[Dominic]’s design was inspired by a flashing LED chore reminder we featured a few years ago. You can also make household task reminders by reusing a Kindle for its ePaper display.

14 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize 2022: BinPal Is A Convenient Recycling Reminder

  1. We’ve been recycling since about 1975, when a neighbor took her newsprint to a place that bought it, and we sent ours along. Since about 1980, there’s been pickup, like clockwork.

    We don’t forget.

    1. Do you know your argument is a convenient pretext not to do the effort to sort your trash, right ?
      And do you realize that the recycling chain is something very local, each city having its own ?

      So, maybe you understand that while your argument might be true in some locations, it´s plainly false for many other places and countries ?

      Out of curiosity, which place are you living in ?

      1. One place I used to work had “compost” bins along with the recycling bins.
        Later I found out the “compost” went to a waste to energy power plant.

  2. i just view it as the generic scheduling reminder problem. i have a flat text file with one line per event, and if it matches a certain format then it gets shown on the lock screen of my phone as a notification for that day, and on my home screen it shows the next 5 ones. i put appointments & meetings, schedule changes, and monday take out the trash

    1. I fully agree that there are more solutions to this problems – some of them might even work better for your particular situation. In my city the calendar is provided in an ICAL format that I can simply import ín Google calendar. This makes it very convenient for me.

  3. This is static data, updated once per year. WTF do you need a blinkin’ electrowaste whatzit on your fridge for?
    My reminder system is a paper calendar on the wall.
    Doesn’t need batteries. Doesn’t crash. And it’s recyclable too.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out – I failed to emphasize that all component are either recycled (battery from dead camera), outdated (HX1230 display) or surplus from other projects. So I rather give them a second life than throwing them out eventually.

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