It's the Environment, Stupid.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

RecycleBank - the right incentives?

Ron Gonen and Patrick FitzGerald may have found the right incentives to get people recycling.

RecycleBank essentially pays people to recycle. The NYTimes article sums up the process nicely: “Households get credit for the weight of materials they recycle, which is scanned and recorded through a computer chip embedded in the garbage bins when they are picked up by the sanitation crew. They exchange that credit for coupons at various businesses. Municipal officials save disposal fees. Recycling companies make more money from processing. Retailers gain the feel-good association with a socially beneficial activity.”

Within six months, RecycleBank's pilot project in a couple of Philly neighborhoods got 90% of households participating - up from 35% in one neighborhood, up from 7% in another. Imagine all the recycling that will be going on once RecycleBank can manage that success rate on a wider scale!

Not only will more people recycle, but it might just get other companies thinking about ways they can create innovative public/private partnerships to encourage individual/consumer behavior changes, and make the world a better place in the process.


  • Amy, from the extract it said that "they exchange that credit for coupons at various businesses". In this coupon, does it mean that people are entitled to goods or services within a certain business? If so what businesses are benefiting from these coupons - are they ethical businesses, businesses that people actually buy goods from, or businesses that have lobbied the state for the coupons?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:20  

  • Robert, I e-mailed Mr. Gonen about your question - this is his reply: "We have a policy of only including businesses who are committed to sustainalibility and we provide recycling service and assistance on product stewardship to any business that accepts RecycleBank Dollars." For more info check out

    By Blogger Amy Marpman, at 17:42  

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