BinCam is a social persuasive system to motivate reflection and behavioural change in the food waste and recycling habits of young adults. The system replaces an existing kitchen bin and automatically logs disposed of items through images captured by a smart phone installed on the underside of the bin lid. Captured images are uploaded to a BinCam application on Facebook where they can be explored by all users of the BinCam system.

BinCam was deployed in three user studies that each were spanning over a period of 4-6 weeks and involved a total of 93 students who were living in 16 shared households. A number of changes were made to the BinCam system and its evaluation following the first study to foreground, in the second study, the use of gamification elements in the design, improve the waste logging accuracy, and align the evaluation criteria more closely to established models and theories of behavioural change; and, in the third study, to explore potential inter-cultural differences in recycling and food waste behaviours as well as barriers.

Engagement with BinCam was designed to fit into the existing structure of users’ everyday life, with the intention that reflection on waste and recycling becomes a playful and shared group activity. Results of our studies revealed increases in both users’ awareness of, and reflection about, their waste management as well as their motivation to improve their waste-related skills. With BinCam, we also explored informational and normative social influences as a source of change (e.g., socially evoked feelings of ‘guilt’ for non-recycling or food disposal).

Further Read

Comber, R., Thieme, A., Rafiev, A., Taylor, N., Krämer, N., & Olivier, P. (2013). BinCam: designing for engagement with Facebook for behavior change. Proc. INTERACT 2013, 99-115. LINK PDF

Thieme, A., Comber, R., Miebach, J., Weeden, J., Krämer, N., Lawson, J., & Olivier, P. (2012). "We've Bin watching you" - Designing for reflection and social persuasion to promote sustainable lifestyles. Proc. CHI 2012, 2337-2346. PDF

Comber, R., & Thieme, A. (2012). Designing beyond habit: opening space for improved recycling and food waste behaviors through processes of persuasion, social influence and aversive affect. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 17(6), 1197-1210. LINK

Thieme, A., Comber, R., Taylor, N., Rafiev, A., & Olivier, P. (2012). BinCam - A Social Persuasive System to Improve Waste Behaviors. CHI 2012 Interactivity, May 8, Austin, TX.

Weeden, J., Thieme, A., & Miebach, J. (2011). BinCam - Waste Logging for Behavioural Change. BSC HCI 2011 Interactive Experience, July 4-8, Newcastle, UK. PDF

Thieme, A., Weeden, J., Krämer, N., Lawson, S., & Olivier, P. (2011). BinCam: Waste Logging for Behavioral Change. CHI 2011 Workshop "Personal Informatics and HCI: Design, Theory, and Social Implications", Vancouver, CA. PDF

Press (selection)

25th February 2013 - BinCam has been written about in the Wall Street Journal: "Is Smart Making Us Dumb?"

26th February 2012 - BinCam is featured in the Channel 4 TV show "Home of the Future" that introduces a family facing the future using some of the latest gadgets.

21st June 2011 - BinCam was broadcasted on the French News, Channel France 2: 13heurs

8th June 2011 - BinCam on BBC News: Facebook bin of shame encourages students to recycle (online article)


This research was a collaborative guerilla project between Newcastle University's Culture Lab, the LiSC research group at the University of Lincoln, and the University of Duisburg-Essen. The research team included Rob Comber, Julia Miebach, Ashur Rafiev, Nick Taylor, Justine Matejczyk, Jack Weeden, Gu-Young Kang, Shaun Lawson, Nicole Krämer, and Patrick Oliver. We thank Daniel O'Connor, our waste manager at Newcastle University, for his great support in recruiting students and all our participants who volunteered to take part in the project.