UBC is using AI technology to gain smart insights on waste disposed around campus. µOscar (pronounced mos-ker) uses sensors and a camera to predict objects going into the waste stream in real-time.

What is the pilot project?

UBC is conducting a pilot project in partnership with Intuitive, a tech venture that develops AI for zero waste. This pilot carried out at Open Kitchen in Orchard Commons will test out µOscar (pronounced mos-ker), Intuitive’s new AI technology, which identifies the waste items being disposed into our bins. µOscar’s presence sensors recognize when a person walks towards the bin and the AI system (using its camera) predicts the object while anonymizing the person.

During March 2019, a SEEDS Sustainability Program research team is also conducting audits of the waste from the Open Kitchen recycling station, along with different poster designs. For more information on the SEEDS research study, contact Dr. Jiaying Zhao, jiaying.zhao@ubc.ca. For other questions on the pilot project, contact zero.waste@ubc.ca.

Why are we doing this?

In order to become a Zero Waste campus, UBC has provided Sort it Out stations for people to properly recycle their items. This requires individuals to sort their own waste items into the correct bins, which can sometimes be confusing.

To measure how effective our sustainability efforts are to provide clear, concise instructions through interventions like posters and signage, labour-intensive waste audits need to be conducted. This means manually gathering all the waste and arduously going through it piece by piece — it’s pretty dirty, costly, and time-consuming. The piloting of µOscar can potentially allow us to automate that process and gain real-time analytics.

Learn more

To learn more about Intuitive, developers of the AI technology behind this pilot, including the measures being taken to ensure privacy is protected, please visit their pilot page

For more information on how to sort your waste, check out Sort it Out.