Solving Grand Challenges
Georgia’s “Green Girl” is making recycling more accessible.
Katherine and her UGA research team created a virtual platform that helps consumers navigate the confusing world of recycling.
The team is developing this technology into an app that can answer every day recycling questions and working to partner with an e-commerce giant to integrate into packaging systems.
You can help support projects like this by giving to the New Materials Institute Fund.
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities here and every single one of them has been an outpouring of support… I think that’s what is extremely unique to me about the University of Georgia.”
Thanks to Katherine Shayne (BSENVE ’16, MS ’18) and her all-female research team at the University of Georgia, recycling really is as easy as asking your Amazon Alexa.
One of the youngest honorees named to the UGA Alumni Association’s 2019 40 Under 40, Katherine is the co-founder of Can I Recycle This (CIRT), an organization working to clean up recycling by providing localized answers to specific recycling questions.
Katherine concentrated her undergraduate research and her graduate thesis on the end of life for materials, particularly ocean-bound plastics, working and learning under the expertise of Jenna Jambeck, an associate professor in UGA’s College of Engineering. Jenna is internationally recognized for her research on plastic waste in the ocean and is the other co-founder of CIRT.
This all-female research team is powered by the New Materials Institute, committed to creating safer, environmentally-healthy products, as well as systems that generate less waste. The goal of the institute is to encourage more sustainable product design and waste management practices.
“You shouldn’t have to memorize recyclables on a day-to-day basis. We wanted to make it easy and accessible for consumers to utilize,” Katherine says. “Consumers interact with AI where they can ask and get a real-time response.”
When using CIRT, you’ll interact with “GG.” The significance of “GG” is two-fold: it’s Katherine’s sister’s nickname and also short for “Green Girl.”