User research after initial release of myTOMRA

When we created the first version of myTOMRA it was made for Australias new deposit scheme. We did not know how the system would actually work so we had to plan for different scenarios. We started out with a MVP, including three key features: Find closest machine, login at the machine and payout digitally.

We planned to start our research after 3 months, to let people get used to the new deposit scheme. At the 3 months mark we had met our volume goal but not the amount of users.

    Our goal was to:
  1. Understand the consumers core loop journey
  2. Increase number of users

We had 1 month of preparation and 3 weeks on the ground in Australia. For those 3 weeks I planned for observations, focus groups, guerrilla testing and interviews.

My role was to research, synthesize and create a solution to present to stakeholders and developers.

Getting a sense of direction

In the preliminary research I found patterns of usage in different areas in Sydney. Some areas had extreme volumes and a machine usage of 99%. Meaning people were putting items in the machine 99% of the time it was available (Comparing to a country like Germany the average machine is 15-25% usage at a good day). The issue was that some areas only had 5-15% usage. We knew the issue was not population, the lack of items or broken machines.

The "Extremes" also varied greatly in myTOMRA users. Some of the locations with the highest volumes had incredibly low amount of myTOMRA users. The pattern I found is that High volume + Low myTOMRA use = Low income area. There were some discrepancies but not enough to ignore. It was important to note that the system was new, and the people have yet to create a habit of recycling.

    I had 2 subtasks to focus on:
  1. Why the large difference in usage between sites?
  2. What impact has the regional income on the user journey?

I created 4 personas based on the behavior data we had from existing app users and the recycling machines.


  • High volume
  • 2/day
  • Cash
  • All day


  • High volume
  • 2/week
  • myTOMRA
  • Early / Late


  • Medium
  • 2/Month
  • Cash
  • Late


  • Low
  • 4/week
  • myTOMRA
  • All day

Finding the highs and lows

Recyclers in Australia during User research @ beginning of NSW bottle scheme We spent 2 weeks on observations and guerrilla interviews & User testing. We interviewed 200, user tests with 100 and hours and hours of observations day and night. User tests was short and often focused on one feature at a time; create account, identify at the machine or how to find another machine in the area.

Users printed login barcode from the app Why the large difference in usage between sites?
At the high volume sites people were queueing from 4am to 12pm. For many it was a good source of income, for others it was the right thing to do. It became obvious early that people assumed it was temporary and had to take their chance now. They had found their one location and did not check for other locations. Word of mouth spread like wild fire and brought everyone to one site.

How can we increase the number of users?
I focused more on interviews on low volume sites since they had most app users. Many sites had low visibility from the road or nieche stores close. The majority of interviews from low volume sites told me that myTOMRA was an obvious choice.

Different pieces of the puzzle

We summarized our findings after each day in the field. Comparing and discussing emerging patterns to understand where to go next.

    Selection of findings:

    Find biggest obstacles for users to complete the core loop. (identify, recycle, reward)

  1. Once they learned about the location they were at, they didn't bother to look for another. The common reason for being there was word of mouth and visibility from the road.
    "There is one at my local shop?! I heard about this one and thought I'd try it, I just kept doing it."

  2. Due to the vast number of items each person carried, it would often look like 2 different users to our system. They were often able to max out a session in the number of items and the machine would register it as two different sessions.

  3. ...

  4. Very low attendance by younger people at all sights. Reports about inner city of Sydney show a much higher attendance.
Selection of findings:

Understand opportunities for myTOMRA

  1. The information about myTOMRA was at the machine, people did not feel like they had the time once they were at the machine. After queueing for a long time and feeling like they would hold up the line by downloading the app.
    "I saw something about the app! Seems amazing, I just forget about it when I'm done recycling"

  2. ...

  3. People who need money directly felt there was an uncertainty or risk to use the app.
    "I don't know what happens when I send the money to my account. They may disappear!"

  4. ...

  5. Users who have problems or don't want to use a smartphone find it useful to combine the browser version on their computer to check the status and only use app to login at the machine.
    "I don't like smartphones, my fingers don't work on them. I printed the barcode to a keychain and check my numbers on the computer!"

Let's make it happen!

We managed to spread the usage over the districts by new marketing strategies and planning future locations based on research. We tripled the amount of myTOMRA users over the year and continue to grow.

    Our goal was to:
  1. Understand the consumers core loop journey
  2. Result: We mapped 3 consumer core loop journeys from largest user groups based on the data we gathered. Professional, family and Solo recycler. Largest obstacle in the user journey was information about the deposit scheme.

  3. Increase number of users
  4. Result: By informing the public about all the locations and how close the next one is increased the numbers of users greatly. We reduced the stress to the deposit scheme and people did not have to stress through their recycling session and was able to take the time to sign-up and use myTOMRA.

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Strange machines from the north

UX Analyst UX Researcher

When Australia started their deposit system together with TOMRA I was on the ground to research how well the system performed. I was tasked to observe and interview end users, test our internal systems with our brand new employees and how we could improve the roll out of machines on the other side of the world.