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The New Eco Role Models

Written by O, The Oprah Magazine
Published: April 1, 2009

By Amanda Robb

Saving the earth one village, turtle, and bag of recyclables at a time. (And what you can do too.)... O Magazine profiles Recyclebank CEO and co-founder Ron Gonen along with five other eco role models

Ron Gonen, 33
Co-founder and CEO, Recyclebank (, based in New York City and operating in 15 states

How He Started: I was getting my MBA and wanted a way to combine my professional experience with my strong interest in social policy and tRon Gonenhe environment. I wanted to do something I could make an impact with today. Everyone, whether in a city or a suburb, whether rich or poor, can recycle.

How It Works: As part of our contract with cities, we give every home a Recyclebank container with a chip embedded in it. When a recycling truck picks up your container, the weight is electronically recorded and translates into Recyclebank points. You can use the points-worth up to $400 a year-at retailers such as and Whole Foods, or for Coca-Cola and other products.

Who Pays: The program actually saves money. In Wilmington, Delaware, for example, Recyclebank has diverted 33 percent of the city's waste into recycling, saving it $1.5 million a year. Recyclebank gets a portion of the city's savings, and citizens get paid to recycle.

Most Bizarre Moment: I used to joke that I was the only Columbia Business School grad who, a year out of school, delivered recycling containers and picked through garbage for bottles.

Just One Thing You Can Do: Recycle. It costs your municipality a lot to take trash to a landfill-and your taxes are increased to pay for waste disposal.

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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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