Class: Technology & City Project.

Material: Plywood, acryl, Arduino, RFID scanner, motors.

Aim: Create the prototype for the automatic waste separation tube.

DataTube is an improvement of the existing waste tube in Russian houses with an aim to make recycling easier to local people, to encourage recycling behaviour, collect data about waste production for the researchers and introduce recycling programs for buildings depending on their waste production. The project was inspired by existing social and digital studies. For example, a study by Sterner (1998) showed that if recycling takes more time, people less willing to recycle and tend to produce more waste. Another work which was an inspiration is TrashTrack where tracking technologies were used to understand the movement of waste after its disposal. For DataTube project waste play a role as an indicator and social profile of the person who throws it away. From waste activities, different personal information can be understood: social statuses, gender, age, hobbies and etc.

DataTube prototype is based on Arduino Leonardo with RFID scanner (code reader), servo motors and IR sensors. The mechanism is consisting of “trash stoppers” (Separator 1) controlled by servo motors and then Separator 2 which are also controlled by servo motors. By default, Separator 1 is always in a closed position to prevent garbage to fell directly to the bins without separation. If the code reader will be not able to recognise RFID then waste will go to the general waste bin. In the future trash bins can be equipped with sensors which identify fullness of the bin and automatically send a request to the Management Company to take appropriate actions . Also, the number of recycling bins will be more then three.

The first real prototype of DataTube.
The schematic representation of the DataTube and first real prototype.

The Arduino code for the separators and motors can be found via the QR code below. Or via the link

DataTube is an example of what the future waste tube can be to provide convenient waste separation to the Russian householders. Their easier solution exists, for example recycling containers, but our goal was to change architecture with minimum impact on human behaviour. The major limitation of the project as there no studies available about people’s behaviour towards waste tube: some houses remove them; others prefer to not use waste tubes due to the unsanitary conditions. Before implanting such program additional research is needed.


Sterner, T. & Bartelings, H. (1998). Household Waste Management in a Swedish Municipality: Determinants of Waste Disposal, Recycling and Composting. Environmental and Resource Economics, pp.
473 491. [Online]. Available from:
Date accessed: 11 July 2019

TrashTrack (n.d ). [Online]. Available from:
Date accessed: 11 July 2019

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