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Recycling is its own reward: Customers earn points they can spend

Written by Tony Kindelspire, Times-Call
Published: January 23, 2010

Two companies that share the mission of keeping recyclable materials out of the landfill have teamed up in Colorado. And if residents have to be encouraged — bribed? — to recycle more, so much the better for the residents.

Waste Connections is offering its customers a chance to sign up with RecycleBank. The more those customers recycle, the more RecycleBank rewards points they get, earning them discounts on food and other products and services.

Unlike in Longmont, residents in many surrounding cities and towns choose their own trash and recyclable haulers. One of those haulers, Waste Connections, introduced its Colorado partnership with RecycleBank in November.

The initial rollout was in 10 communities, including Erie, Frederick, Firestone, Lafayette and Louisville.

So far, 6,000 people have signed up to have one of RecycleBank’s recycling containers — with their distinctive orange lids — delivered to them, according to Dave LeClair, division sales leader for Waste Connections.

“Your tote has a (radio frequency identification) chip on it, and that chip is registered to that particular address,” LeClair said.

When the RecycleBank bin is dumped into a Waste Connections truck, the truck weighs the recyclables and the chip credits that weight to that home.

The more people recycle, the more points they earn, said Kim Jordan, regional manager for RecycleBank.

“Right now, the average active recycler in our program is earning about $20 worth of rewards points a month, or about $240 a year,” Jordan said.

One pound of recyclables is worth 2.5 points. Customers can redeem their rewards points in a variety of ways. Target, Kraft and Bed Bath & Beyond are three well-known national companies that redeem RecycleBank points, but local businesses can participate as well.

Customers can earn a maximum of $45 in points a month, or $540 a year, Jordan said.

Waste Connections partners with RecycleBank in other states with much success, LeClair said. For example, Waste Connections has 30,000 customers in Wichita, Kan., who participate in the program, he said.

“The amount they are putting in per home before RecycleBank versus what they were putting in after basically tripled,” LeClair said, adding that each household went from 17 pounds of recyclables a month before RecycleBank to about 66 pounds after.

Waste Connections offers single-stream recycling, meaning bottles, cans, newspapers, cardboard and plastic all are put into one bin. Jordan said her company does have ways to stop people from putting, say, concrete or sand in the bins. But most people who sign up for the program have no interest in cheating, she said.

“We’re seeing a contamination level very, very low — only 3 percent to 5 percent, on the high side,” Jordan said.

New York-based RecycleBank’s program is new to Colorado, but it operates in 20 other states and the United Kingdom. It partners with various haulers around the country, and Waste Connections is its Colorado partner.

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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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