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Chicago is First Illinois City to Partner with RecycleBank

Written by RecycleBank
Published: August 3, 2009

Recycling Rewards Program Will Help Promote Sustainability by Increasing Recycling Participation in Chicago

NEW YORK, Aug. 3 -- Mayor Richard M. Daley, along with 19th Ward Alderman Virginia Rugai announced on Saturday that the City of Chicago has partnered with Recyclebank(R), a rewards program that rewards households for recycling and other positive environmental behaviors. This program is designed to encourage additional recycling participation and compliment the City's transition to the Blue Cart Program recycling program which is already in place in more than 241,000 households in Chicago. Chicago is the first city in Illinois to deploy the Recyclebank program.

Recyclebank motivates households to recycle by rewarding each household for the amount they recycle. 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 more than 1,900 local and national Recyclebank Reward Partners. Recyclebank Partners include national retailers such as Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods,, Ruby Tuesday's and CVS/pharmacy, as well as local participating Chicago businesses, such as Leona's, Moo and Oink, 'city sponsor' Carson Pirie Scott, County Fair, Treasure Island, the Chicago White Sox and the Children's Museum. There is also an option to donate your Recyclebank Points to local school environmental programs, charities and non-profits.

The City of Chicago selected 10,000 households in wards 5, 8 and 19 for Phase 1 of the Recyclebank rewards program. These areas were selected for a variety of reasons with the purpose of enabling the City and Recyclebank to evaluate the increase in recycling and expansion of service. These areas have the longest data collection from the Blue Cart recycling program and they have a good mix of single family homes and multi-unit buildings. They also selected routes within those areas that produced lesser quantities of recyclables. This ensures that our test will illustrate more clearly that the incentive system has the desired results. Each Blue Cart in the pilot area will be retrofitted with an ID tag that matches the Blue Cart to the household address and account number, while tracking recycling activity. Upon activating their account with Recyclebank, either online or by phone, the household will begin to earn Recyclebank Points.

Active Recyclebank members can redeem their Recyclebank Points online at, where they can also learn about their personal environmental footprint through recycling. Residents can also access their account information by calling the toll free Recyclebank Customer Care Center, 1(888)727-2978.

Recyclebank brings meaningful value for the residents of Chicago. On average, members earn hundreds of dollars in reward value each year through their recycling efforts. The city can expect to see about 600 tons of waste diversion and over $500,000 in local economic stimulus as a result of this six month field test program.

Neighborhood businesses are joining the recycling efforts in droves. As an added benefit for Chicago Recyclebank members, two local hometown favorites are going the extra mile and offering bonus rewards to participating households. The Chicago White Sox and their partner Comcast will give away two free tickets to the first 200 households who activate their Recyclebank accounts. The reward is valid for two free upper deck reserved seat tickets and is redeemable for select 2009 home games based on availability. Additionally, Leona's will provide every household in the program a $5 gift card to their restaurants upon account activation.

"Chicago is a beautiful place to live, work and raise a family," said Mayor Daley. "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."

"The City of Chicago has set many goals in order to be one of the greenest U.S. cities. Partnering with Recyclebank will both increase our recycling rates and lower our waste output," the Mayor explained. "Our partnership with Recyclebank brings a proven recycling rewards program to our community and allows us to take the necessary steps to achieving our sustainability goals."

Currently, Recyclebank services more than one million people across 20 states and also provides service in the UK. These households have cumulatively saved more than 1.8 million trees and 118 million gallons of oil through their recycling efforts.

The steps following the Phase 1 field test are to roll out fully in all three wards' 38,000 households. "Through education, community outreach and the use of our Recycling Block Captain Program, we are confident that we will see great results with Recyclebank," said the Mayor. "It's important that residents understand that they must do their part when it comes to recycling and preserving resources."

"Recyclebank continues to demonstrate that when financial incentives are aligned, people will make the better environmental choice," said Ron Gonen, CEO of Recyclebank. "We look forward to working with Mayor Daley, the local business community, local community and environmental organizations and households to achieve Chicago's environmental goals.

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Recyclebank is a rewards program that motivates people to recycle. Using the Recyclebank proprietary three-step process Recycle, Record, Reward(TM), 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. 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.

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