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Houston Expands Single-Stream Recycling Program, To Reward Residents for Recycling with RecycleBank

Written by RecycleBank
Published: October 20, 2009

Recycling Rewards Program Helps Promote Sustainability by Increasing Recycling Participation

HOUSTON, TUESDAY, OCT. 20, 2009 — Today, Houston Solid Waste Management Director Harry Hayes, along with City Controller and Mayor’s Solid Waste Task Force Chair Annise Parker, At-Large Position One Councilmember and Chair of Houston’s Sustainable Growth Committee Peter Brown, District B Councilmember Jarvis Johnson, and Recyclebank Chief Operations Officer Scott Lamb, announced that the City of Houston has partnered with Recyclebank®, a rewards program that rewards households for recycling and other positive environmental behaviors. The first phase of the Recyclebank program is sponsored in part by Alcoa and Texas Instruments. Also attending the event were At-Large Position Four Councilmember Ronald C. Green and District F Councilmember M.J. Khan.

Already a success in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, as well as in 21 states and in the United Kingdom, Recyclebank measures the amount of material recycled and then converts that amount into Recyclebank Points that can be redeemed for rewards, gift cards, groceries, and products at hundreds of local and national Recyclebank Reward Partners.

“The City of Houston is proud to announce its partnership with Recyclebank and the expansion of our green cart, single-stream recycling program to 22,000 households,” Hayes said. “Houston has set many goals in becoming a greener, more sustainable city. Partnering with Recyclebank will both increase recycling and reduce the amount of material going to the landfill.”

Single-stream recycling means only one collection container is needed for all paper, glass, metal, cardboard, and plastic recyclables—no more sorting. In March, close to 10,000 Houston households were introduced to the innovative way of recycling with new 96-gal. green carts replacing the 18-gal. dual-stream recycling bins. Hayes said that in the first six months of the program, participating households recycled more than the City’s average combined.

“We expect to see a further increase, now that households will be rewarded for recycling,” Hayes added. “This program is good for both the environment and the local economy. Recyclebank Points translate into savings for residents during these tough economic times. Families may earn up to $540 worth in reward value each year through their household recycling.”

Recyclebank Points are redeemable at hundreds of local and national partners including major retailers and brands such as Coca-Cola, Kraft, Seventh Generation, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ruby Tuesday, CVS/pharmacy and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Local reward partners include Smoothie King, Niko Niko's Greek Restaurant, Ruggles Green Restaurant, Sol Vino Wine Bar and Restaurant, Soundwaves Music and Clothing Store, Triple Toystore, Sonic, Papa John’s Pizza and more. There is even an option to donate Points to charities or to local schools for environmental programming through the Recyclebank Green Schools Program.

Members redeem their Recyclebank Points online or via phone, where they can also learn about their personal environmental footprint through recycling, read about easy ways to be greener, and learn what happens to recyclables once picked up curbside.

“As Recyclebank continues to expand across the United States, our ongoing vision of rewarding households for recycling is becoming a reality,” Recyclebank COO Scott Lamb said. “The City of Houston recognized the value that Recyclebank brings to communities by helping them reach their environmental goals, putting savings in their residents’ pockets and invigorating the local business community.”

Alcoa, the world’s leading producer of primary aluminum and alumina, fabricated aluminum, and a leader in the recycling of aluminum, helped to fund the Recyclebank program in Houston. In addition to Houston, Alcoa has funded one other Recyclebank program in Mesa, Arizona.

“At Alcoa, it’s important for us to give back to our communities in which we live and work,” said Alcoa Director of Corporate Metal Recycling Strategy, Gregory Wittbecker. “A program like Recyclebank is a win-win all around since it fits into our aluminum industry goal of increasing the recycling rate for aluminum cans to 75 percent by 2015. Boosting aluminum recycling rates saves natural resources and reduces energy demand.”

Recycling is a very tangible example of Alcoa’s sustainability initiatives. Wittbecker said that recycling aluminum requires only one-twentieth of energy required to make virgin material. Aluminum cans are infinitely recyclable back into new beverage containers in as little as 60 days.

Texas Instruments provides the technology that allows the Recyclebank program to operate. Green carts have personalized identification tags made by TI. Technology on the recycling trucks reads the ID tags, records how much households recycle by weight, and transmits that information to Recyclebank. Recyclebank then credits accounts with Recyclebank Points based on the amount recycled.

“TI has long had a goal of zero wasted resources. In fact, TI recycled 91 percent of our total waste in 2008,” stated Paul Westbrook, Texas Instruments Sustainable Development Manager. “Recycling and resource management ensure the areas where we operate are cleaner, healthier places to live and work. It also improves the company’s efficiency, reduces costs and fosters sustainable growth in shareholder value. Because of the benefits we’ve seen through our own recycling and conservation activities, partnering with Recyclebank to help our communities do the same was an easy decision.”

Houston residents must activate their Recyclebank account to redeem their Points for Rewards. Visit or call 1-888-727-2978 to easily activate and start earning Points. Recyclebank services more than one million people across 21 states. By cumulative recycling efforts, those households have recycled more than 300,000 tons of material, saving more than 200 million gallons of oil and over 3 million trees. For more information on Recyclebank, visit

Houston residents begin receiving rewards for recycling on Monday, Nov. 9, 2009. For more information on what can be recycled, call 311 or visit

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The Solid Waste Management Department provides solid waste services to the citizens of Houston through the collection, disposal, and recycling of discarded material in a manner that is safe, efficient, environmentally sound and cost-effective. For more information about the City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department and its services, please log on to


Recyclebank® is a rewards program that motivates people to recycle. Using the Recyclebank proprietary three-step process Recycle, Record, Reward™, we quickly and easily measure the amount of material each home recycles and then convert that activity into Recyclebank Points that can be used at hundreds of local and national rewards partners. Recyclebank is simple to implement, market-driven, and proven to work; saving municipalities’ money and rewarding citizens for their environmental stewardship. Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield and Byers, RRE Ventures, The Westly Group and Sigma Partners are institutional shareholders. Ron Gonen, the co-founder and CEO, is the largest individual shareholder. A global company with offices in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, Recyclebank is headquartered in New York City. Recyclebank was recently honored as a 2009 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer and has been named as a 2009 Champion of the Earth by the United Nations. Visit for more information. Fan us at and follow us at

Alcoa is the world leader in the production and management of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina combined, through its active and growing participation in all major aspects of the industry. Alcoa serves the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial transportation and industrial markets, bringing design, engineering, production and other capabilities of Alcoa's businesses to customers. In addition to aluminum products and components including flat-rolled products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, Alcoa also markets Alcoa® wheels, fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building systems. The Company has been named one of the top most sustainable corporations in the world at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and has been a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for seven consecutive years. More information can be found at

Alcoa Recycling was started in 1978 to recycle used beverage containers. Since then, Alcoa Recycling has become an industry leader by recycling aluminum of all forms, including cans. In 2008, the Aluminum Association set forth the goal of achieving a 75% recycling rate of aluminum cans by 2015. This goal is what Alcoa Recycling aims for when investigating efficient and cost-effective recycling models, pursuing meaningful recycling legislation, and educating the public about the benefits of recycling. Developing greater convenience for recycling is also a key component of Alcoa Recycling’s campaign, which has prompted our massive recycling bin distribution program as well as partnerships with various community groups and corporate partners. For more information about Alcoa Recycling, visit our website at

Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN) helps customers solve problems and develop new electronics that make the world smarter, healthier, safer, greener and more fun. A global semiconductor company, TI innovates through design, sales and manufacturing operations in more than 30 countries. For more information, go to

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