Chicago 'Banks' on Recycling

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Chicago is the latest city to incentivize recycling through the RecycleBank program. Not only will residents potentially benefit from earning credits to popular retailers through the program, but the first 200 eligible households within the test areas that activate their account online will receive two free Chicago White Sox tickets.

RecycleBank will replace the Chicago’s existing Blue Cart curbside recycling program, which is currently available to 241,000 households. The new program will offer gift cards and rewards from manufacturers and retailers, including Coca-Cola, Kraft, Ruby Tuesday and Target, based on how much residents recycle in a given week. There is also an option to donate RecycleBank Points to local school environmental programs, charities and non-profits.

Photo: Destination360.com

Chicago is already listed as one of Popular Science's Greenest Cities because of its public parks and waterfront spaces that merited the U.S. Green Building Council's “Platinum” rating, its highest award. Photo: Destination360.com

The city is promoting the new partnership for both its environmental and economic benefits. Chicago estimates the program will divert 600 tons of waste from landfills and expects to see $500,000 in local economic stimulus in the initial six-month test period. During the test period, 10,000 households will participate in wards 5, 8 and 19.

The program also offers incentives for recycling electronics through the mail, such as cell phones, laptops and MP3 players.

“The City of Chicago has set many goals in order to be one of the greenest U.S. cities,” said Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. “Partnering with RecycleBank will both increase our recycling rates and lower our waste output. It brings a proven recycling rewards program to our community and allows us to take the necessary steps to achieving our sustainability goals.”

RecycleBank set a goal to provide its program nationwide by the end of 2009, helped by support from a partnership with waste hauler Allied Waste. According to a press release,  RecycleBank currently services more than one million people across 20 states and also provides service in the UK. These households have cumulatively saved more than 1.8 million trees and 118 million gallons of oil through their recycling efforts.

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Trey Granger

Trey Granger is a former senior waste stream analyst for Earth911.
Trey Granger

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