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Recyclers Earn Retail Points Through Rewards Program

Written by Adamn Balkin, NY1
Published: September 9, 2010

Imagine if you got paid for not doing the easy thing, but rather for doing the right and responsible thing. That is the basic premise behind the for-profit company, RecycleBank.

"The genesis was really to motivate people to recycle more and you can think about RecycleBank as like the world's first frequent flyer program, mileage program, but in this case we're using points to reward people for recycling more," says Ian Yolles of RecycleBank. "The way the company began was by putting an RFID [radio-frequency identification] tag in the recycling bin, so that enables us to identify it as your recycling bin so we know you've recycled on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. There's a scale on the truck. When your recycling is picked up, you're able to weigh the recycling from that day and based on that, we reward you with points. The more you recycle, the more you earn."

Those points can be redeemed for discounts or even free items or services at dozens of nationwide and even local retailers. The pick-up program is right now available in select communities in 26 states.

RecycleBank officials say they are looking into how to spread their program to New York City, where residents in big apartment buildings often put out all their recyclables at once, so it's hard to tell who's contributing what.

Meanwhile, even people who are not in a pickup zone can still participate.

"We've recently launched a program in the city of Chicago, in partnership with the Citizens Utility Board, using a similar methodology to get people to reduce energy consumption in their home setting," says Yolles. "We also have a program that rewards people and motivates people to recycle electronic waste."

RecycleBank claims participants make money on recycling they may have done anyway, the community saves money on garbage hauling, companies offering rewards earn new customers, RecycleBank earns money from those companies and the environment benefits from the recycling. The company calls its business model a "win, win, win, win, win" situation.

You can also view the story here.

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Recyclebank At A Glance

New York

New York, Philadelphia and Houston

Javier Flaim


The Coca-Cola Company, Craton Equity Partners, Generation Investment Management, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Paul Capital Investments, Physic Ventures, RRE Ventures LLC, Sigma Partners, Waste Management Inc., and Westly Group

4 Million+

300+ in all 50 states

Reward Partners

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