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IF11: The Value Proposition Driving Recyclebank's Explosive Growth

Written by Tilde Herrera, GreenBiz
Published: October 14, 2011

We talk a lot at about engaging employees for sustainability, but what about consumers? How do you engage them to change behavior when pocketbook issues have moved sustainability issues to the back burner?

Reward them. That's the innovative approach Recyclebank takes to engaging consumers to eliminate waste and take other environmentally friendly action. Also, don't forget the value proposition.

"Unless they feel like they're making a tangible, real-world improvement in their day-to-day lives, you've got nothing," said Recyclebank CEO Jonathan Hsu.

In a keynote interview this morning at the GreenBiz 2011 Innovation Forum, Hsu described to Senior Editor Marc Gunther how Recyclebank cuts through the clutter to spur behavioral changes in a population going through a recession and bombarded with green messaging and products.

"How do we make members feel rewarded, recognized, and feel like they're part of a larger conscious and community, that what they're doing day to day makes a real impact?" Hsu said. "That is really the key proposition."

Here is how Recyclebank works: As mentioned, the company gives discounts and deals from its business partners to consumers who earn points for green actions. Recyclebank has a couple revenue streams, including a share of the net savings realized by municipal partners from increased recycling rates and reduction in waste going to landfills, to advertising, sponsorships and partnerships.

This business model has attracted venture capital funding from the likes of Kleiner Perkins and Generation Investment Management.

"The reason why they are investing in us is that we are the first company that they feel can do good and do well simultaneously at scale," Hsu said.

It turns out those in the VC community aren't the only ones to see the potential in scaling Recyclebank's business model. Shortly after Hsu's interview, Recyclebank announced a major deal with Waste Management that will vastly increase the company's reach.

"This is going to be step-function scale for the company," Hsu told GreenBiz Managing Editor Matt Wheeland today. "First and foremost, it makes Recyclebank the winner, go-forward platform within green incentives. Second, it not only provides us scale of operations, but also scale of resources to really expand across all the pillars of sustainability very quickly now."

You can also check out this article over at GreenBiz.


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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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