Authors: Regina Galhardi, Yimin Zhou, Ellen Jin

One of the initial ideas of this project was to map out the life cycle of plastic trash after disposal by consumers of food delivery service, and give the public a visualized impression on where their one-off food containers go after usage. The original purpose of adopting this GPS tracking system was to convince people to act towards tackling pollution problem, so before we implement the idea, we did a Life cycle assessment.

a GPS tracking system is further designed to complement the study. The idea is to use hundreds of small sensors attached to plastic container so that these trashes can be tracked through the city’s waste management system, revealing the final journey of consumer’s food ordering action in a visualized way. Eventually, this is expected to be a bottom-up approach to promote behavioral change among active food delivery service users.

How the tracker works?

The tracking system using asset tracker builds on the GPS technology. Each tracker periodically reports its location data to the server via four ways including GPRS, satellite, GSM, and WIFI. The tracker size can be as small as a coin, and water proof in case of being swept into sewage or river.

To ensure a long enough battery life to track the container trash until the destination, selected tracker model can work the longest 120 days thanks to the motion sensor, which allows it to continue being in hibernation mode if no movement has been detected. If movement has been detected, the motion sensor wakes up the tracker to check and report its new position.

The cost of such asset track ranges from RMB 300 / USD50 to RMB 600 / USD 100 per unit depends on order volume, sourcing locally from China.



How the system works?



Negative Environmental Impact Risk

The original purpose of adopting this GPS tracking system was to convince people to act towards tackling pollution problem, so before we implement the idea, we did a Life cycle assessment on the GPS tracker, in order to identify the environmental impact of this practice. Unfortunately, considering a sensor composed by 50% of plastic (polypropylene) and 50% of electronic materials, the LCA results demonstrated that the GPS tracker has highly negative environmental impact, due to the heavy metal components. More research need to be done on how to minimize the environmental impact of the trash trackers, and coordination with the telecommunications research institute or companies is regarded as having practical significance.