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Student’s recycling app takes top spot at Norwich
Sync the City hackathon

The winning team Sorti with head judge James Duez. Picture: Tim Stephenson Photography

The winning team Sorti with head judge James Duez. Picture: Tim Stephenson Photography

Tim Stephenson Photography

An innovative app which tells consumers which packaging they can recycle from their shopping has been named the winner at Norwich’s annual Sync the City competition.

The judges. From left: Katherine Wood, chief executive and co-founder of Phonics Hero, Laura Bowater, academics director for innovation at UEA, James Duez, executive chairman and co-founder of Rainbird Technologies, Rebecca Lewis Smith, co-founder and managing director of Fountain, and Neil Garner, founder and chief executive of Thyngs. Picture: Tim Stephenson photography.The judges. From left: Katherine Wood, chief executive and co-founder of Phonics Hero, Laura Bowater, academics director for innovation at UEA, James Duez, executive chairman and co-founder of Rainbird Technologies, Rebecca Lewis Smith, co-founder and managing director of Fountain, and Neil Garner, founder and chief executive of Thyngs. Picture: Tim Stephenson photography.

But its founder says such apps – and other ethical start-ups – cannot be a substitute for shoppers taking responsibility for their own environmental footprint.

The app, named Sorti, emerged victorious at the end of the 54-hour hackathon which ran from Thursday to Saturday at Open in the city.

Maria Faud and her team of 10 created the app which allows consumers to scan a picture or barcode of a product, to receive information about which parts can be recycled.

It also tells users whether they can recycle it at home, or need to visit a specialist recycling facility.

The winning team Sorti with head judge James Duez. Picture: Tim Stephenson PhotographyThe winning team Sorti with head judge James Duez. Picture: Tim Stephenson Photography

The business and development undergraduate at the University of East Anglia said: “The idea of the app came from a problem I struggle with myself.

It’s important for those with technology skills to help in any way they can, because this is such a big issue.

“But we have to remember we can’t create an app for every problem and it’s up to individuals themselves to start tackling their plastic use.”

Ms Fraud was joined by teammates Anand Ajithkumar, Maggie Cheung, Mark Chin Peng Chiew, Rogin Fiula Rajendran and Evie Borthwick-Clarke. They were joined by Katie Fisher, Sophie Rollo, Jack Penson and Taylor Terry.

Ms Faud, 21, said: “Having an ethical element to your business is something which pretty much every start-up in 2018 will be considering, and larger corporations are adopting because it gives you an edge.”

Following meetings this week about the future of Sorti, the group will continue fundraising to develop the front-end design of their product prototype.

The group has been given a boost already thanks to the £3,000 prize for winning the event.

Head judge James Duez, of Norwich AI firm Rainbird, said: “It’s safe to say the standard this year made our decision really difficult.

“We were particularly impressed by the depth of thinking on this model and the opportunity to educate people.

“This idea tackles a globally pressing problem and the Sorti team presented lots of different ways to monetise – the judges were unanimous.”

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