Introducing “Ask Binny”: Improving student engagement to ensure waste separation on campus

To ensure the fulfillment of sustainability goals, Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) aims to improve the waste separation of students on campus. Within the context of a Co-Innovation Lab and DTLab project, students from TAMK collaborated with students from Hochschule München (HM) to launch a web application “Ask Binny” aiming to increase student engagement in waste separation.

Screenshot “Ask Binny” (Video created by Yesim Kerim Kaya)

Sustainability in focus

In order to uphold sustainability goals and decrease the cost caused by unsorted waste, a functioning waste management is required at TAMK. Additionally, TAMK is a holder of the Ekokompassi certificate which requires that a certain percentage of all waste on campus is recycled. While the interest in sustainability topics among students is high, unclear instructions contribute to a lack of engagement in waste sorting. This results in incorrect sorting, detracting from TAMKs sustainability efforts.

A simple solution for a complex issue

With the support of facility management in the persons of Silja Kostia and Saana Raatikainen from TAMK, the project team is now introducing “Ask Binny”. The web application offers guidance for students by identifying waste types and offering information on the location of the right bins on campus.  It thereby focuses on eliminating the complexities and unclear instructions that contribute to inefficient waste sorting. The mascot Binny the Bin is designed to simplify the often-complex task of waste sorting for students and improve engagement. With the “Ask Binny” web application, students now have access to centralized information, clarification of where and how to sort, and the confidence to determine the appropriate disposal method for their waste.

Fostering a movement throughout TAMK

“Ask Binny” is already available in building C and targets the most common waste items found on campus. Additionally, the integrated map feature enables students to effortlessly locate the most suitable disposal bins. As the client confirmed, “Ask Binny” is informative in a simple and positive way. It enables TAMK to foster a widespread movement towards sustainable waste management practices as the facility management at TAMK will take over the web application to further develop it.

Introducing Binny the Bin and the “Ask Binny” web application (Picture taken by Chiara Dietz)

One of the main challenges that became initially evident in the context of the project was the necessity of managing the diversity of the team through the usage of clear communication. Because of this, communication channels as well as teamwork schedules were agreed understanding and listening to each of the members involved. This was of utter importance since given the fact that the project was primarily conducted in an online setting most of the job was done on an asynchronous manner. The project demonstrated the vital importance of incorporating diverse cultural insights and varied professional expertise, which collectively contributed to a robust exchange of ideas and substantially enriched the collaborative process. Coordination of team skills toward a common goal in the context of an international IT project proved to be not only the key challenge of the project but also an invaluable learning output for the whole team.

Online Meeting with TAMK clients (Picture taken by Chiara Dietz)

The web application was developed by an international project team consisting of Maria Victoria Bachmann, Ignacio Barraza, Yesim Kerim Kaya, Chiara Dietz (Master students from the DTM-programme) and Moritz Ulsess Bachelor student in Business Administration at HM) and Terhi Järvinen, Ella Kataja, Niko Lähteinen, Jussi Rinta-Kiikka (Bachelor in Computer Science from TAMK).  at HM) and Terhi Järvinen, Ella Kataja, Niko Lähteinen, Jussi Rinta-Kiikka (Bachelor in Computer Science from TAMK). “Ask Binny” was developed in the context of modules of HM and TAMK under Hans-Jürgen Haak, Prof. Dr. Lars Brehm, Prof. Dr. Holger Günzel, Prof.  Dr. Jessica Slamka, Anne-Mari Stenbacka and  Jere Käpyaho.

Get to know more about “Ask Binny” in the following video.

About the Digital Innovation Lab and the Co-Innovation Lab

This solution was designed in a joint project between the Digital Transformation Lab and the Co-Innovation Lab of Hochschule München guided by the lecturers Prof. Dr. Holger Günzel, Prof. Dr. Lars Brehm, Prof. Dr. Jessica Slamka, Hans-Jürgen Haak, Jere Käpyhao and Anne Mari Stenbacka (TAMK). The Co-Innovation Lab offers students a virtual platform for learning how to work as a consulting team by creating temporary partnerships between companies, students, and lecturers.

For more information about the Co-Innovation Lab, contact or

This Co-Innovation Lab project was carried out in cooperation with the Digital Transformation Lab (DT.Lab) at Munich University of Applied Sciences:

“The Digital Transformation Lab (DT.Lab) at Munich University of Applied Sciences is dedicated to the major social challenges of our time. Together with stakeholders in the private sector, students develop future-oriented solutions. We live digital transformation.”

More information about the Co-Innovation Lab and the Digital Transformation Lab (DT.Lab) at Munich University of Applied Sciences:

Authors: Chiara Dietz