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Cherry Hill Starts Cashing In On Recycling

Written by The Philadelphia Inquirer
Published: June 30, 2008

By Edward Colimore

The proposed recycling program sounded good in theory, but Cherry Hill Mayor Bernie Platt wasn't sure how residents would respond to it. He began a test project in a few neighborhoods in October and was stunned by the results. The amount of recyclable materials collected there increased 90 percent.

"People were thrilled, and we began getting calls from others all over town asking why they didn't have" the program, Platt said. "The response was so tremendous we made the decision to go townwide."

Today, homeowners across Cherry Hill will join the recycling program, in which participants earn gift
certificates for reducing the trash they send to landfills.

Recyclebank, started in 2004 by two Philadelphia natives, has provided households with large, blue-lidded
containers to be picked up weekly by a computer-equipped truck with a mechanical arm. After scanning the container for an embedded barcode, the truck computes its weight.

Based on that weight,residents accrue credits - or Recyclebank dollars - redeemable at businesses such as Acme, Ikea, ShopRite, AMC Theatres and Lowe's.
"You don't have to separate everything," said Gila Aviram, an Israeli native who has lived in Cherry Hill for
27 years. "It all goes into the same container.
"It's about time the rest of the United States came to the conclusion that we need to recycle. Why should we
waste something?"

The Recyclebank program is "a win-win situation," Platt said. "Homeowners get [store] certificates for
recycling, and we save money in landfill and incinerator fees." The township expects to save $400,000 a year, which covers the $400,000 it pays Recyclebank. The program has allowed Cherry Hill to eliminate one of its two weekly trash pickups. "That reduces our carbon footprint, and saves the streets, too," Platt said.
Recyclebank serves more than 100,000 homes in 10 states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, Virginia, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Nebraska. It's preparing to enter Illinois, Texas, Minnesota and California, company officials said.

The most visual parts of the program are its blue trucks and the blue containers outside every home, said
Recyclebank cofounder and CEO Ron Gonen, whose company serves 25 municipalities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
About 1,600 homes in the township's Knollwood, Forest Park, Surrey Place and Windsor Park sections were involved in the pilot program.

"The containers have been filled to the top,demonstrating the motivation of everyone to recycle," Gonen
said. "Now we'll be doing the remaining 20,000 homes."
Recyclebank paid for the technology and containers, and Republic Services, the town's trash hauler, picked
up the tab to retrofit its trucks as a way to capture future business.

Cherry Hill officials said the average weight of recyclable materials at households in the Recyclebank pilot jumped from 12 pounds to 23 pounds.
Residents go online or make a free call to find out how many credits they have amassed in their accounts.
They can redeem up to $400 Recyclebank dollars a year. "We're the number-one recycling town in Camden County," Platt said. "Now, I think we'll be the number-one recycling town in state of New Jersey. No other community as large as Cherry Hill is doing what we're doing."

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