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Lake Wales plans program to reward recycling

Written by Kara Phelps, News Chief
Published: February 18, 2010

LAKE WALES - Within the next year, Lake Wales should start rewarding its residential recyclers.

The program, called RecycleBank, will give points to households depending on the amount they recycle, which can be redeemed for coupons to local businesses.

Lake Wales currently recycles 30 tons each month, said Jean Wilson, spokeswoman for Florida Refuse, the company that manages the city's recycling. At a commission meeting Tuesday, she praised Lake Wales for its recycling numbers and introduced the RecycleBank program. To be operated through Florida Refuse, the program is designed to increase recycling participation.

RecycleBank is now operating in 27 cities across the United States. The only Florida city currently using it is North Miami.

Wilson said Florida Refuse also plans to give residential recyclers new bins with wheels, to make it less difficult to get the recycling to the curb. Rather than separating the paper and cardboard from the plastic and metal, she said all the recycling might also be accepted in the same bin.

"You have to make it easy for people," Wilson said.

Both RecycleBank and the new bins are expected to be instituted before the end of 2010, she said.

Wilson said the Lake Wales recycling incentive "Go Green and Make Some Green" also could come back in the summer months. Last May, Jean Scott of Lake Wales drove around the city in the early morning on recycling pickup days, looking for households that had their bins by the curb. In the lawns of some of those, she planted "Go Green and Make Some Green" signs and awarded the residents with a $25 gift certificate to a local-owned restaurant.

Scott jokingly referred to it as Lake Wales' "Get Caught Recycling" program.

"It was shocking how few people recycle," she said.

Wilson said recycling in Lake Wales typically drops by 9 to 10 tons per month in the summer. She guessed the decrease is due to the many residents who winter in Lake Wales returning to their northern homes.

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