IT Degree Students Hack the Global Waste Issue

Friday, 26 March marked the fourth annual 24-hour international virtual hackathon, Hack the Waste. Kicking off at midday, this year’s event saw 64 students from across the world come together to generate solutions for the benefit of the planet. We were proud to have seven IT degree students representing our iTversity at the event, 3 of whom formed part of the 2nd and 3rd place teams. 


Other participating institutions included Avans University of Applied Sciences and Fontys University of Applied Sciences (the Netherlands), Institut Paul Lambin and UCLL University of Applied Sciences (Belgium), BA School of Business and Finance (Latvia), University College of Northern Denmark (Denmark) and Universidade Estadual Paulista (Brazil). In addition to being from a range of different countries, this year’s participating students also came from a range of disciplines including information technology, management, finance, accounting, marketing and business innovation, etc. 


Divided into 8 multicultural, multidisciplinary teams, these students were tasked with developing solutions to solve a waste problem pitched by leading European waste management company, Renewi. The challenge: develop innovative ways to motivate SMEs in densely populated areas to separate their waste. By combining the strengths of each discipline and adopting a multicultural mindset, the students were able to generate a range of holistic solutions which greatly impressed the Renewi representatives.

Read on to learn about the top 3 solutions our IT degree students helped develop in just 24 hours!



Top 3 Solutions 

1st Place: Hack4change

The winners came up with an information platform to educate Renewi clients about recycling and motivate them to better sort their waste. The platform features shocking waste statistics and a virtual recycling calculator which allows clients to calculate their company’s recycling efforts. Companies who perform well receive a badge that they can place on their website (displaying that they are an eco-friendly company) and companies who perform less well receive tips and tricks from Renewi to better optimise their recycling efforts. 


2nd Place: The Trash Busters 

Belgium Campus IT degree students: Shammah Nhlabathi

Aimed to simplify the waste sorting process for Renewi and reduce their recycling costs by encouraging their SME clients to clean their waste. SMEs and their employees are encouraged to do this with the use of a fun and educational challenge platform which tracks who cleans the most waste in order to award top achievers. Employees are awarded incentives while companies are awarded medals which they can use for self-promotion on their respective platforms. Employees who perform well also have the added advantage of a reduced service cost from Renewi. 


3rd Place: The Green Hackers

Belgium Campus IT degree students: David Maila and Zander Rosslee

Developed a reward system that allows SMEs to accumulate points through proper waste sorting. Each client is given a unique, mobile-based QR code which is scanned by Renewi at the time of waste collection (once proper waste sorting has been confirmed). Clients gain points each time their QR code is scanned and are awarded certificates that indicate their business’s level of sustainability based on the total number of points they have accumulated. 


Also impressed by this year’s solutions was Businet representative and president of the hackathon jury, David Taylor, who commented, “The standard this year was very, very good. It wasn’t an easy decision to decide the winning team.” We are extremely proud of our IT degree students and we are honoured to be part of a network of international institutions collaborating to create thoughtful leaders capable of driving real and sustainable change. Learn more about the hackathon and each team’s solution: