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Cool Vendors in Green IT and Sustainability, 2013

Written by Gartner
Published: April 23, 2013

We look at six Cool Vendors that address two key themes that are becoming increasingly related in the area of sustainability: namely, building energy efficiency and stakeholder engagement, especially through the use of gamification.
Key Findings
Sustainability-related programs will increasingly put specific focus on using technology to influence the behavior of the relevant stakeholders — including initiatives at the enterprise and community levels, or a more integrated supply-chain-wide effort.
Measuring engagement is an important metric for assessing the progress of energy efficiency and sustainability programs.
Gamification presents a potentially effective technology that can be used to influence behaviors in support of energy efficiency and sustainability programs.
The energy efficiency of buildings remains a key focus for enterprise sustainability programs and vendor solutions.

Increase collaborative efforts with facilities managers, energy managers and chief sustainability officers to better exploit technologies that increase bottom-up stakeholder engagement in energy efficiency and sustainability programs.
Engage facilities managers to collaborate on the use of information, analytics and automation to substantially increase building the energy efficiency of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), and the lighting and distributed IT load.
What You Need to Know
Many large enterprises that are household names are actively pursuing strategically important sustainability programs. But sustainability as a core strategy and a discipline is struggling to battle its way across the chasm from use by early adopters to acceptance by the mainstream.

An interesting area that has gained increased focus over the past 12 months has been stakeholder engagement, where the stakeholders might be employees, customers, consumers or suppliers. Influencing behavior and educating stakeholders are critical parts of this journey across the chasm, and important to integrating sustainability into business-as-usual processes and systems. In some cases, the need for actively nudging engagement is transitory; in others, it may prove to be more of a long-term approach.

In the past, we've looked at several Cool Vendors concerned with energy management, because it was and remains the area gaining most attention from enterprises and receiving the most investment. We continue that focus with BuildingIQ and WegoWise, but we've looked for a stakeholder engagement twist to it this year. Although not focused on energy, Recyclebank is an interesting example of driving community engagement in recycling by using gamification. Like Recyclebank, CloudApps has employed gamification techniques, but it uses gamification to increase employee engagement in corporate sustainability programs, which is an area we see a great future for in sustainability-related initiatives.

We are also taking a retrospective look at Lucid, which has been active in driving stakeholder engagement in building energy efficiency programs for many years by presenting information in an attractive way and providing a platform for creating and running competitions. We are also revisiting JouleX as it extends its energy management platform from the desktop and the network to a wider spectrum of IP-connected assets that will play an increasing role in overall building energy management, and will encroach into the data center.

New York, New York ( )
Analysis by Chet Geschickter

Why Cool: Recyclebank is an IT-enabled service provider that is an innovator in combining IT, gamification techniques, marketing and partnerships to educate and incentivize citizens to adapt behaviors to increase recycling program participation.

Garbage is a major byproduct of today's consumer-driven economies. According to World Bank estimates, between 1.5 and 2.5 kilograms of municipal solid waste per capita per day is generated in advanced economies like the U.S. (at the high end), or France and Japan (at the low end). Environmental impacts are significant, including resources to create packaging and other future trash, landfills, or emissions from incineration. Waste handling costs are high and typically borne by local governments (in the U.S., "tipping fees" range from $20 to $100 per ton). Conversely, recycling generates revenue. A recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) case study cites $25 per ton as a figure for revenue generated by recycling.

A perfect municipal recycling program has 100% participation and 100% compliance (all eligible materials recycled, no contamination). However, challenges include ignorance (about what can be recycled) and low participation rates. Recyclebank partners with local governments and waste haulers to increase recycling rates and encourage citizens to make more-sustainable choices. It offers participating households points for increasing recycled tonnage, and then partners with major brands and local merchants for rewards. Recyclebank's gain-share model is attractive for municipalities looking for low-risk upside.

Founded in 2004, Recyclebank claims to have 4 million members and 125 employees. Early on, Recyclebank included equipment, such as scales for weighing collected garbage and RFIDs for trash bins, but it has exited out of equipment and now partners with waste management companies instead. Company management claims 4,000 local and national partners, and average benefits of $165 per household per year. Partnering with local merchants is another win, as it drives incremental economic activity in participating communities.

Recyclebank is cool because it uses an innovative gain-share model. Moreover, it borrows elements of the loyalty rewards business model in a creative way to motivate and activate citizens, and in so doing it creates a more tangible reward for good environmental behavior.

Challenges: There is money in recycling and trash hauling, but not a lot, especially once overhead costs are factored in. Recyclebank needs to monetize points so that they have redemption value. From a financial perspective, this makes Recyclebank's business model a starting point, but not necessarily the endgame. In response, the company is diversifying by providing marketing services to brands interested in getting sustainability messages out to consumers. Program participation is another challenge. Households must opt-in by joining as members, and the company needs to balance customer acquisition costs with economic benefits. Multifamily dwellings where trash and recyclables from different households are commingled present another challenge that the company is working to overcome with a multifamily pilot project. Recyclebank is predominantly focused in the U.S., but it does have a presence in a few U.K. boroughs.

Who Should Care: Local government officials interested in increasing recycling revenue should investigate the merits of the Recyclebank model, including likely fiscal benefits. Others that may want to consider Recyclebank include brand managers from consumer products and service companies interested in building an association with environmentally conscious consumers, and chief sustainability officers interested in direct outreach programs that build awareness. Those with interests in techniques to influence and motivate behaviors toward sustainability, conservation or civic engagement will find relevance in the gamification tactics used by Recyclebank.

To read the full report, where five other vendors are profiled by Gartner, please click here.

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