A New, Lucrative Way to Recycle
If Ron Gonen has his way, it will be as convenient for Americans to make money off their garbage as it is for them to toss it. Gonen is the CEO of RecycleBank, which contracts with cities to reward residents for their curbside recycling. Founded in Philadelphia in 2004, RecycleBank has expanded to 26 states and the U.K. It now serves more than 1 million homes.
The company fits garbage and recycling trucks with a mechanical arm that can weigh a household's recycling output. The information is transmitted to RecycleBank, which deposits points into an online account based on the weight of the recyclables. Families can use those points—worth up to $200 per year—to shop at hundreds of retailers. Those stores, in turn, are rewarded with a presence on the company's website, plus the benefit of being seen as eco-minded.
"We've increased recycling by at least 100 percent in the communities we've partnered with," said Gonen. And while RecycleBank members can already cash in their points at greener outfits like Whole Foods and Gaiam, they will soon be encouraged to spend in an even more sustainable way: Gonen recently teamed up with eBay to motivate shoppers to buy used goods.