Recycle Bank Gives New Incentives for Consumers to Recycle

recycle_bank.jpgRecycle Bank is one of the coolest business ideas I’ve seen in a while. I was tipped off by this recent New York Times article about it. Basically, it’s a system wherein your recyling bin gets weighed, and you recive a coupon that’s redeemable at various stores for purchases. The arrangement is described in the article, and works so well that in the frst pilot neighborhood, participation stands at 90%, and the city (Philadelphia) is saving money on waste costs – all while the two entrepreneurs running Recycle Bank build a successful business.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

11 responses

  1. I’m curious: Why would the garbage companies agree to participate? I live in San Francisco. We currently pay our garbage company for the privilege of having them remove not only our regular waste, but also our paper/cans/glass recycling *and* our compostable recycling (kitchen and yard waste). Why would they suddenly agree to start paying me back for the waste I currently pay them to take?
    Or is this more of an idea to incent communities who are not currently recycling?

  2. diversion, is the word they use. If garbage companies can get you to recycle more or have a higher participation rate, then they have less weight on their trucks going to a dump that they must pay to dump.

  3. Irma,
    RecycleBank does not “start paying” you for your waste. Communities contract with RecycleBank to provide a waste collection service which tracks each household’s participation in curbside recycling by weighing labeled containers used by each household. It costs less to dispose of the waste of a community which recycles because the cost of waste disposal is largely determined by the tonnage of material that must be sent to landfills and incinerators. RecycleBank provides a means to distribute the savings directly to those who contribute to the reduction of the community’s bill.
    If you have a private collection company, you can already reduce your bill by simply reducing the amount of waste you generate. Those of us who pay taxes depend on the behavior of the community as a whole to determine our expenses. RecycleBank provides an incentive for each household to recycle that is independent of their neighbor’s recycling effort, or lack thereof.

  4. I honestly think more communities and large metro cities will participate in this. The concept feeds on the fact that large cities don’t want to be considered “Un Green”. If residents have an incentive to participate, they will.

  5. They are a bunch of time wasting solicitors.
    They wasted valuable time from my small store. Its always the small struggling or money losing businesses that are asked to contribute.
    Of course, they wont walk into a big chain store and try to sell their pitch there.
    They ask for the small struggling businesses to contribute. Then, they reward people with discounts towards the big chains, hurting the small store even more.

  6. In Sweden we already are recycling the garbage and we have to pay much money to get rid of it.
    If I will be payed for the garbage which I have already paid for in the shops I would be very thankfull and I would recyckle even more.
    Garbage is a big economic resource
    Kind regards Birgitta Hernestam Sweden

  7. Hi all, in Italy we are already making big steps in recycling (I mean in the north not in the south where landfills and incinerators are own by “particular” families) some cities riches more than 80%. If I will be payed for that(even by 5-10 euros off) I would be thankfull too even if is just an incentive sponsored by big chain..

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