I’m of the opinion that recycling should be a natural impulse like brushing your teeth or buckling up when in a car; no reward should be required for doing the deed. But for many, an incentive for doing something that may not be routine definitely doesn’t hurt.
Atlanta, like other cities, is well aware that a bit of “carrot dangling” is needed to motivate some residents to recycle. This is why the city has partnered with container company/service provider Rehrig Pacific to launch an incentive-based pilot curbside recycling program called ReCART (Rewards for Collecting Recyclables Together). The catalyst behind ReCART is to not only encourage lackluster recyclers to step up their game but it also aims to reward those who are dutiful recyclers and, of course, to clip the amount of recyclables making their way into landfills.
This doesn’t mean that Atlantans will soon be reaping cruises to Nova Scotia or pool tables just because they've put their recycling out. Working with primary backer Coca-Cola Recycling LLC and rewards partner RecycleBank, the city is providing 10,000 households with new Rehrig Pacific recycling carts that come embedded with special ID tags. When a cart is picked up for collection by the city, it's weighed and the ID is scanned. Then, when a household activates their corresponding RecycleBank account they’ll be able to see that with each pick-up they’ve scored RecycleBank “points.”
After a household racks up enough points, they can be redeemed for gift certificates, groceries, and products with hundreds of local and national ReycleBank partners like Whole Foods, CVS, Amazon.com, and many more. In fact, nationwide, the list of RecycleBank partnered businesses spans over 1,500 so there’s something for everyone.
I’m not exactly sure how the RecycleBank rewards program plays out. Like, how many recycling pick-ups would it take to receive, let’s say, a $25 Amazon.com gift card? Could you take your family out for a nice dinner each month just by recycling? I do know that a maximum of 450 points/month or 5,400 points/year from curbside collection is allowed and that each pound of recyclables that's collected is good for 2.5 points. Additionally points can be earned through e-waste recycling.
Atlanta is not the first city to unroll a RecycleBank rewards incentive program. Chicago, Cleveland, Phoenix, and dozens of other cities and municipalities states either have RecycleBank rewards programs in place or will soon. Cities in the UK are also involved.
So, veteran RecycleBank account-holders, have any pointers for the 10,000 lucky folks involved in Atlanta’s new pilot program? And what are your thoughts on incentive-based recycling, in general?
Photo: Mira Hartford