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Changing the Way We Think About Recycling And Sustainability

Written by Money
Published: September 25, 2014

Personal actions, says Javier Flaim, Recyclebank CEO, can and do make a big difference. People prefer the carrot over the stick with respect to sustainability.  And it is hard to argue with the results – dramatic increases in recycling associated with communities where the program has been launched. And while the Recyclebank business model continues to evolve, the basic idea behind its launch back in 2004 still holds true: that education and incentives can motivate people to recycle more. (Read my interview with Javier Flaim at this link.)

Today, the company continues to be a collaborative force in bringing businesses and people together, with results to the tune of over 2,500 community and national entities, more than 300 communities, as well as 4 million participants, recycling nearly 1.5 billion pounds in 2013 alone. Recyclebank  members earned $60 million in rewards value in 2013 as a result of more than 21.6 million green actions, achieving real-world impact according to the company.

Saying that Recyclebank was developed to transform how we think about recycling and sustainability, Flaim believes that the company’s ten year anniversary is a celebration not only for his company, but also for the communities, brands and partners who made strides to boost community recycling rates, paving “the way for a greener future.”

A foundation of Recyclebank’s success has been successful partnerships with communities, starting with the company’s first pilot program in Philadelphia back in 2004 – a relationship that remains strong, as well as others such as Eastvale, California and Rochester Hills, Michigan. These, the company says, illustrate how motivation toward a sustainable future in unison with the Recyclebank program can deliver gratifying results.

Eastvale, Calif.

Eastvale experienced immediate results after launching Recycleblank in January 2013 in conjunction with a revamped recycling program.  The first year alone saw Eastvale enjoy a 17 percent boost in its diversion rate. Residents also accessed Recyclebank’s eco-library, and taking advantage of educational learn and earns and Live Green blog, with more than one-third of residents logging into over the course of 2013.  City manager Carol Jacobs said she was excited by the first year diversion rate increase made possible with the Recyclebank program, and the city is striving to reach a 20 percent increase.

Rochester Hills, Mich.

Back in 2008, Rochester Hills launched a Recyclebank program in conjunction with single stream collection and an expanded household recycling program. Since that time, Rochester Hills has enjoyed a 323 percent increase in pounds recycled. As of 2013, 70 percent of the community was subscribed to the program, logging 58,000 digital actions and registering greater than $1 million in rewards value earned. In May 2014, Rochester Hills renewed the program for five additional years.   

Philadelphia, Pa.

Philadelphia recently renewed its relationship with Recyclebank, continuing the award winning Philadelphia Recycling Rewards program. Since the Recyclebank program was expanded to all Philadelphia residents in 2010, in conjunction the City’s recycling innovations including weekly single-stream collection and increased community outreach and education, Philadelphia has received a 29 percent boost in diversion rate, translating to over $11 million in avoided cost of disposal and increased revenue from recycled material. The program has steadily grown since it began with the current participation rate greater than 36 percent.

While the Recyclebank program has been a motivational force in the recycling of billions of pounds of material, the company stresses that it has also been at the forefront of recycling education.  In 2007, Recyclebank launched its Green Schools Program, which since that time has granted almost $450,000 to greater than 150 schools across the country.  

On Earth Day 2014, Recyclebank introduced One Twine, an ecommerce site dedicated to offering carefully vetted products  that “are better for your home, your wallet and the planet.” The online shop currently offers over 1,500 products. Recyclebank is headquartered in New York City.  

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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

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