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Brookhaven residents can rack up rewards by recycling

Written by Erin Duenas, Times Beacon Record
Published: August 17, 2011

Rocky Point resident Carla Levix was a diligent recycler before the free points-based reward program Recyclebank came along. But once Brookhaven launched a partnership with the program's Manhattan-based company earlier this month, Levix signed up, opting to cash in on her conscientiousness.

She can now redeem her points from curbside recycling for cat food, Ziploc products, Monster Mini Golf in Medford and a range of other discounts and coupons from participating local and national businesses.

Recyclebank is a "great idea" and good motivation for people who are otherwise tempted to toss recyclables in the regular trash, Levix said. "I didn't need an incentive other than it was the right thing to do," the mother of three added, "but sometimes people need that extra little push."

The town teamed up with Recyclebank in an effort to bump up area recycling. The more a household recycles, the more reward points its members can accrue for themselves — and their neighbors. But in order to access those rewards, Brookhaven residents must register for an account.

To qualify, they can sign up online at or by phone at 888-727-2978 and put out their Curby recycling cans and paper trash for normal curbside pickups. Recyclebank participants immediately earn 300 points just for signing up, and another 10 points each time they report that their household has recycled up to once a week. A week after the end of the month, Recyclebank deposits an additional 2.5 points for every pound of recycling weight from the resident's collection area for that month.

Points don't expire as long there is activity on an account at least once every 12 months. Rewards may be redeemed online, printed at home or received in the mail to use on a variety of goods and services including restaurants, health and beauty supplies, food and entertainment.

Fifty points earned through recycling could earn a resident $10 off a $50 purchase at Macy's, for example. Other brands offering incentives include Coca-Cola, Aveeno, Dove, Kashi cereal, Staples and McDonald's. Local businesses offering rewards include Brian's Aquarium in Rocky Point, Fetch Doggy Boutique and Bakery in Port Jefferson and Powerhouse Gym in Miller Place.

Town Supervisor Mark Lesko said partnering with Recyclebank is the "next level" in encouraging more recycling in the town. "Recycling helps the environment and by increasing recycling efforts both residents and the town can save money," Lesko said. "While earning everyday savings from Recyclebank, residents will have the opportunity to protect the environment, invigorate the local economy and keep their community clean."

Recyclebank's northeast vice president, Beth Kean-Waddell, said she is "thrilled" to be partnering with Brookhaven, noting that while Recyclebank programs are in place in more than 300 communities across the U.S. and England, Brookhaven is the first municipality in New York to implement it.

"At Recyclebank, we believe in the power of individual actions," Waddell said. "We've seen how monumental the collective impact can be when members of local communities, government and businesses work together."

Waddell said the more that participating residents recycle, the more they save from their favorite brands. Meanwhile, businesses get free advertising and the chance to build brand loyalty.

Recyclebank gets to share in some of the revenue from participating merchants, and also gets $50,000 from Brookhaven's waste management arm, a spokeswoman in Lesko's office said. If the townwide rate of recycling increases by 3 percent, which is expected with Recyclebank, the town realizes revenue — by selling the recyclables, for instance — and the contract with Recyclebank essentially pays for itself, she said.

The anticipated increase in recyclables will be more manageable with the current construction of a 12,000-square-foot addition to the town recycling facility, which will include an indoor bale storage area as well as a three-bay loading dock.

Councilman Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld said he is proud to support the program.

"Recyclebank coming to Brookhaven is the epitome of thinking globally and acting locally," Fiore-Rosenfeld said, "where it helps create a more sustainable future by rewarding people for taking everyday green action."

Participant East Setauket resident Scott Sussman said he thinks Recyclebank has its merits but the rewards fall a little flat. "[The rewards are] not as good as the typical credit card or supermarket rewards," Sussman said. "I think if the program is to last or actually work, the rewards would need to improve."

According to Recyclebank's website, the rewards change and new businesses continue to join.

Sherry Sobel, who makes large special occasion cakes as the owner of A Cake in Time bakery in Mount Sinai, said her business offers a reward of 15 percent off a $275 purchase as part of Recyclebank, which she called a "good program." Sobel said she also recycles and tries to run her business in an environmentally responsible way by donating leftover cake pieces to local soup kitchens.

"I like participating in good stuff being done in the community," Sobel said. "I want to give people the chance to buy and keep business in the neighborhood."


You can also read this article over at Times Beacon Record.

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