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Recyclebank: A Study In Shifting From Silos To Collaboration

Written by Fast Company
Published: March 27, 2014

It takes more than a village to save a planet.
Since Recyclebank’s founding in 2004, the company realized that, in order to make a measurable impact on sustainability, it needed help.

The online incentive program relies on relationships with waste haulers, cities and municipalities, brands, and consumers. Individuals can collect points by performing green actions and trade in those points for incentives provided by Recyclebank’s corporate partners. With 4.5 million members in over 300 communities across the United States, Recyclebank has learned a thing or two about engaging multiple audiences to reach a single goal.

Moving From Silos to Collaboration

In the early stages, the company operated in silos, but CEO Javier Flaim says they soon realized in order to have lasting impact each of those groups would have to learn to work together. “We were a very member-focused organization at one point. Then we were a very public sector focused organization, but we realized we couldn’t be singularly focused. We had to find commonality across all of these stakeholders,” says Flaim.

To connect stakeholders to each other, Recyclebank encouraged various departments to work together rather than operate as individual entities. Creating an open dialogue among Recyclebank’s 100 employees in New York and Philadelphia was important to Recyclebank’s success, but Flaim says this organizational change towards greater collaboration had to happen first at the leadership level.

The Power of Over-Communicating

Bi-weekly lunch-and-learns in which Recyclebank invited clients into the organization to present to the entire company, keeping all employees informed on what the various stakeholders need and want, was a key part of that open communication.

“I’m a true believer that there’s no such thing as over-communicating. Between our all-hands meetings, our executive meetings, our lunch and learns, our intranet where we share stories and articles, that is where real collaboration happens and we go over and above to make sure that everyone understands multiple areas of our business,” says Flaim.

He ensures his executive team communicates through daily emails and weekly wrap-ups, ensuring the organization breeds a culture of open communication from the top down.

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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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