Turning Trash Into Cash

Here is music for every eco-do-gooder's ears: Somebody out there wants to pay you for your recycling. Boasting a piggybank logo whose rear end is a recycling bin, RecycleBank is a program designed to reward your home for the amount you recycle – offering up to $25 a month of coupons at over 100 participating stores, including Whole Foods, Starbucks, Rite Aid, and Home Depot.

Founded by two young crackerjacks — Patrick Fitzgerald, a former Wall Street analyst who says he was never an “overt treehugger,” and Ron Gonen, fresh out of business school — RecycleBank was profiled in a recent New York Times feature.

Here's how it works: RecycleBank provides your home with a specialized container with an embedded digital bar code. The recycling truck identifies the code with an on-board computer, then registers the weight of the recycled goods as a “credit” in your personal account. Rewards are issued based on the cumulative weight you amass monthly. The economics make perfect sense given the growing cost of landfill.

The program is participant-friendly in that it's a single-stream system, meaning you don't have to separate paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, tin, and aluminum. Just throw it all in one bin. (Just don’t throw in any non-recyclables, or your credits will be docked.) If you want your community to become involved in the RecycleBank program, email info@recyclebank.com.

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