Recycle Right wins Rep. John Sarbanes’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Maryland’s Third District

Rep. John Sarbanes has named Saketh Sundar from River Hill High School as the winner of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Maryland’s Third District.


When asked what inspired the creation of Recycle Right, the student said, “Every year in the US, 16 million tons of recyclable waste end up in landfills, in large part due to incorrect recycling by Americans. Single pieces of contaminated waste or trash can render hundreds of pounds of recyclable waste unusable. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the recycling contamination rate has increased due to people incorrectly recycling items such as face masks, plastic gloves, and dirty food delivery containers instead of placing them in the trash.  At school and home, I frequently see waste being erroneously disposed of, which is not sustainable and can have catastrophic effects on the environment in the future. Rising landfills due to incorrect recycling lead to rising pollution and an exacerbation of climate change. This incorrect disposal was usually due to people not knowing what type of material an object was made of or not knowing what type of waste can be recycled. As an environmental advocate in my community and a Howard County Conservancy climate change ambassador, I realized that there was a need for an easy-to-use tool to help people dispose of waste correctly.”

The 2021 Congressional App Challenge yielded 2,101 fully functioning apps. After eighteen months of disruptions to educational cadences for students everywhere, the Congressional App Challenge came roaring back with 7,174 students registering for this year’s competition. All told, 340 Members of Congress hosted Congressional App Challenges in their districts across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.

The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, theCoderSchool, Facebook, Replit, Accenture, and others.

The 2022 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2022, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.