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RecycleBank rewards you and your community for filling the bin

Written by Ashley Phillips, Green Right Now
Published: January 22, 2010

Everyone is told to recycle because it is good for the environment, but what if it was also good for you? RecycleBank is a program that financially rewards households for recycling. And the concept is sweeping the country, with small and large cities signing on. Even cities that already offer recycling, such as Chicago and Los Angeles, are looking at the independent program as a way to raise recycling rates.

When a person uses RecycleBank, their community money by conserving natural resources, and diverting trash from landfills — and they earn points for discounts at stores. The bins are weighed each week, and for every pound of recycling a person collects, he or she receives 2.5 points. The more one recycles, the higher the reward, up to the maximum of 450 points per month.

The average RecycleBank member collects $240 in reward value each year, according to the company. The points can be redeemed at more than 1,500 local and national retailers including:

Bed Bath & Beyond

Hobby Lobby

Olive Garden

Ruby Tuesday

Sam’s Club

Seventh Generation

Sunglass Hut

Whole Foods Market


Aside from the typical paper, plastic, and aluminum, RecycleBank accepts “e-waste,” which includes laptops, cell phones, iPods and mp3 players. Since these items cannot be thrown into the recycle bin, the company provides shipping labels online so members can mail the products to the appropriate location and still receive points.

“RecycleBank has seen dramatic results across the country. We have doubled, tripled and even quadrupled recycling volumes wherever we launch our program. This creates a quadruple win scenario as residents gain savings and free products through the rewards program. Local main streets see a stimulus as over 50 percent of all rewards redeemed are redeemed locally,” said Lisa Pomerantz, vice president of communications for RecycleBank.

RecycleBank, which was founded in 2004, is growing quickly. It currently operates in 300 cities in 24 states, including major markets such as Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and Phoenix. Just last summer, RecycleBank took its program international by launching in the United Kingdom in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, as well as Halton Boroughs.

Currently, Chicago is in the middle of a six month pilot program, in which 10,000 houses in Wards 5, 8, and 19 were selected to participate. Chicago expects to redirect approximately600 tons of waste from landfills, as well as producing more than $500,000 in local economic stimulus.

“Chicago is a beautiful place to live, work and raise a family,” said Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley in a statement. “Working with RecycleBank will enable us to meet our recycling goals while giving something back to our residents. During these rough economic times, saving money on groceries, clothing, at the pharmacy, or even on free movie tickets is of significant value.” Results of the pilot will be available once the program is complete this spring.

Beginning in April, RecycleBank will launch a pilot program of 15,000 homes in the West Valley and North Central sections of Los Angeles.

City leaders like the program because it offers a reward to residents for doing what cities want them to do in the first place.

“Partnering with RecycleBank is a great way to protect our environment, invigorate our local economy, keep our community clean, and deliver meaningful, everyday savings to the residents of Westland,” Mayor William Wild of Westland, Mich. said. “Everybody wins.”

RecycleBank has been receiving accolades for its efforts. It was named the 2009 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer and the United Nations Programme 2009 Champion of the Earth.

To date, RecycleBank has saved 4.3 million trees and 288 million gallons of oil, the company estimates. Its formula: For every one ton of paper that has been recycled, 17 trees are saved. For every three pounds of plastic, aluminum and glass that is recycled, one gallon of oil is saved. RecycleBank keeps an ongoing tally of its positive carbon footprint, and each member’s impact also is tracked by total recyclables.

Call RecycleBank to find out if their services are offered in your community, 1(888)727-2978.

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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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