TECH

This app wants to be the Grab of garbage

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Hakoot, deriving from the Bisaya way of speaking the word hakot, was born out of a debate in a Facebook group in Dapitan city about garbage collection problems. Photo courtesy of HAKOOT

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Our country has a persistent and complicated relationship with garbage. Landfills have long been a part of the Philippine landscape, and efforts of mass cleanup are nothing short of a media spectacle. We all want to get rid of garbage — with climate change on our tails and the trash of other countries in our faces, the demand for proper waste disposal has become increasingly urgent.

While powerful organizations and corporate giants are to be held accountable for the majority of carbon emissions, we can still do our part in reducing our carbon footprints, and it can be done by simple segregation and proper garbage disposal. In the small city of Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte, an app called Hakoot is looking to solve this problem.

Hakoot, deriving from the Bisaya way of speaking the word hakot, was created by brothers Efren Jamolod Jr., a senior software architect in Sweden, and Jesrome Jamolod, a senior software engineer in Cebu. Both lovers of nature, they were first inspired to create the app because of a debate in a Facebook group in Dapitan city about garbage collection problems.

Efren recounts, “When we looked at it, as professionals, we [thought we] can do something about this. So we started to think of some solution. We tried to validate this problem based on our research, [that] it’s not just isolated in Dapitan. It’s everywhere in the country — mostly in third world countries, so to speak.”

According to a 2017 report of National Solid Waste Management Commission, the Philippines produces 1.2 million tons of garbage per month, subsequently requiring 400,000 garbage collections monthly. Hakoot addresses this problem head-on, as it functions as an engagement platform between garbage collectors and the people who need their garbage collected.

Efren explains, “We developed two applications. One for the garbage collector, and one for the residents, where they can do real-time monitoring. The garbage collector will do the garbage collection and they will be able to see the location and the type of garbage the resident will be disposing. At the same time, the end-user will be able to monitor the garbage collector’s location, when it will arrive, and the distance from his location.”

The app features a way for both users to identify the type of garbage they’re disposing of. Additionally, the collector’s app shows a simplified dashboard, where they can select the route and the type of garbage they want to collect to be able to monitor it efficiently. Photo courtesy of HAKOOT

Identifying themselves as the Grab for garbage, they wanted to provide a better alternative for garbage disposal. Efren adds, “Garbage collection is unpredictable, so we want to make it predictable, for it to be more transparent and visible to the end-user.”

The app also features a way for both users to identify the type of garbage they’re disposing of. Additionally, the collector’s app shows a simplified dashboard, where they can select the route and the type of garbage they want to collect to be able to monitor it efficiently. There is also a push notification system so the user can be notified when a collector is nearby.

For Hakoot to work though, the creators must collaborate with local government units, as they are mainly responsible for garbage collection. However, Efren and Jesrome want it to be more accessible from the collector’s end. “Before, we only had traditional institutions. Like in the Philippines, it’s the LGU who will be responsible to dispose of our garbage. But why do we need to do so? Why can’t we open that to everyone? Garbage collection is a huge market in itself. And if we open that market to anyone to make a business out of it, then why not?” Efren adds.

While it is still exclusive to Dapitan City, the Hakoot team is looking for ways to expand. The team recently pitched to neighboring cities of Iligan and Cebu, and when asked about how they think it would perform in highly urbanized cities, Jesrome notes that it would be beneficial to integrate the app to the current garbage collection system. He comments, “If they’re planning to [go for] ‘no segregation, no collection,’ I think this platform can help implement their programs.”

It is important to note that it is still up to the individual to segregate. With the pressing issue of climate change, proper garbage disposal can greatly reduce our carbon footprint. Efren says, “It’s a huge part of it. Garbage collection is a daily commodity. Every time we consume, more or less, we produce waste. If that’s not handled properly, then there’s no recycling, then we need to reproduce more stuff.”

When asked about the future of the app and its contribution to combating climate change, Efren is hopeful, saying, “I’ve been living here in Sweden for six years now. One thing I learned is that garbage segregation must go down to the household level. It needs to be deeply rooted in the culture itself. Because [no matter] how sophisticated your technology and infrastructure are, if people will not segregate the garbage, it will potentially just fail.”

Hakoot is now available on Google Play.