When I was young, the only way to get paid for recycling was to collect enough aluminum cans to fill up my dad's truck; and even then I was lucky to get $25. Now, 15 years later, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, it is easier than ever to get paid to recycle.
Municipal recycling is nothing new, but most curbside programs aren't as exciting as the RecycleBank -- a recycling company which tracks how much you recycle and rewards users who recycle with coupons and discounts at over 1,500 national and local retailers, including CVS, Rite Aid, Whole Foods, Cold Stone Creamery and many others. Users can earn close to $400 worth of points and savings a year with the program.
The program works by measuring how much your household recycles. RecycleBank users place their plastic, paper, metal and glass in a single container that is weighed by a specially-outfitted collection truck. After pickup RecycleBank credits your account with points to be used toward the local rewards, like $5 off a $50 purchase at a local supermarket, or coupons good toward specific products. Because you get to choose your rewards, you don't end up with generic discounts that don't help, and the system encourages users to pay more attention to recycling.
This short video explains more about the RecycleBank program and shows it in action.
"Absolutely!" said Dustin Piccolo of Philadelphia in a phone interview with WalletPop when asked if his recycling habits have changed in the four months he has used RecycleBank. "Since I did join RecycleBank, my garbage has been going down and down and it's kind of been like a challenge for me to try and put as little as possible in my garbage and as much as I can in the recycling."
Piccolo isn't alone in his increased recycling awareness. When the RecycleBank program started in Montgomery, Ohio, the community saw a 39% increase in the amount of recycled material. It's an upward trend that has been reported in many communities after adopting the rewards-based recycling program.
The program extends past just getting rewarded. Part of Piccolo's newfound attentiveness to recycling includes saving the cardboard core of toilet paper for the recycling bin and making smarter shopping decisions such as paying attention to which packaging is recyclable and using paper bags instead of plastic if he forgets his re-usable bags at home.
But he admits he was also excited to get discounts on purchases at Acme, a local grocery store, and for products like Stonyfield yogurt. The best part, he added, was that the rewards aren't just at national retailers, but at local "Mom and Pop" stores too.
The only cost to join RecycleBank is for the recycling container, assuming you don't already have a hard-sided plastic container to attach your RecycleBank radio tag to. The catch is that your city or a local hauler needs to sign up as a RecycleBank recycler before you can start earning rewards.
If you want to start getting paid to recycle you should send your Mayor to the municipalities portion of the RecycleBank website.
Get paid to recycle with RecycleBank