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|Headquarters||New York, New York|
|Javier Flaim, Chief Executive Officer|
Number of employees
Recyclebank is a company based in New York City that aims to encourage recycling and environmentally-friendly habits. It brings together people, businesses, and communities to achieve real world impact by participating in household recycling and teaching how to live more sustainable lifestyles. Over 4 million people have signed up through Recyclebank's rewards program, which offers magazine subscriptions and discounts among other goods. Recyclebank’s online shop, OneTwine.com, combines the company’s sustainability expertise and rewards program to help people make more green choices when purchasing products. A Certified B Corporation, Recyclebank is headquartered in New York City.
In 2001, New York City was considering cancelling its recycling program. Then Fordham Law student Patrick FitzGerald realized that there was no true economic incentive to encourage people to recycle. He drafted a business model wherein people would be financially incentivized to recycle, businesses would be able to promote sustainability and cities and municipalities could see the results of dramatically increased recycling rates. In 2003, he contacted an old high school friend of his, Ron Gonen, who was then pursuing his MBA at Columbia. Together, the two of them set out to build Recyclebank and a year later, they completed the company’s founding business plan. By 2004, they rolled out a pilot recycling rewards program in Philadelphia. Today, Recyclebank partners with communities all over the country and offers new ways for one to learn, earn points, and shop online.
Further, since 2009, Recyclebank has been a certified B Corporation, meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.
Recyclebank also partners with NativeEnergy, a company that helps businesses reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, in order to offset its own carbon footprint. Between 2011 and 2012, Recyclebank reduced its carbon footprint by nearly 30% by making smarter travel decisions and being more conscious of its waste and recycling habits.
How it works
- For Members: Recyclebank uses a mix of education, rewards and impact metrics help people live more sustainable lifestyles. Through online engagement and a recycling incentives program, the company has helped increase recycling rates in more than 300 communities, partnered to recycle nearly 3.8 billion pounds of waste, and helped move people toward a more sustainable future. On Recyclebank’s website, users earn points by working their way through a tiered series of questions and answers, learning about greener living practices and pledging to follow them, and exchanging points for rewards.
- For Communities: In some communities, members can also earn points for recycling at home, as Recyclebank partners with municipalities and waste haulers in different cities around the country to track home recycling and reward it. These members who can earn this way are either part of the Collect and Click program, or the Curbside program. The Collect and Click subscribed members are automatically awarded points based on the average weight recycled by all households on their collection route. These members are also able to earn 10 additional points for reporting that they recycled each week. The Curbside members that set out their recycling container are awarded points based on the average weight recycled by participating households on their collection route. Through RFID or GPS technology installed on recycling containers and in the recycling truck, Recyclebank is able to track which households are actually recycling. The collective weight is then converted to Recyclebank points and shared amongst all of the residents in the community that recycled.
- For Brands: Recyclebank is also an advertising and sponsorship platform able to reach highly engaged consumers. Brands can sponsor content on Recyclebank and promote their own green strides, for example Ziploc, Domtar, and Johnson & Johnson have partnered with Recyclebank to educate enthusiastic green users on how to recycle the products they sell. Once members earn points, they can then redeem them for discounts and deals from community businesses and major national brands like SC Johnson, Unilever, Macy’s, as well as hundreds of community businesses, all found in Recyclebank’s Rewards Catalog. In this way it offers brands a unique opportunity to reach and engage millions of consumers by rewarding people through online and offline touch points.
Recyclebank uses the idea of "gaming for good," which combines game mechanics with environmental good, as they believe it can have a measurable impact on consumer behavior and the environment.
When Recyclebank was founded in 2004, gamification was not a well-known term, however elements of gamification, such as points and rewards, have been embedded in Recyclebank from the start. These gaming elements make recycling easy for people to relate to, it provides motivation and it helps put behavior in context of the larger community. Though Recyclebank started by focusing on curbside recycling, there are now many more ways to earn points. Members can earn by pledging to do various things: unplugging appliances, choosing greener products, taking shorter showers, and making green travel decisions (like carpooling and taking public transportation), or by taking quizzes to learn more about how to recycle certain things, or even by simply reading a slideshow for tips or more information about new advances in sustainability.
Green Schools Program
Each year, the Recyclebank Green Schools Program awards grants for unique environmental projects that positively affect students, schools and communities. Through the Green Schools Program, Recyclebank teaches children how to turn sustainable ideas into action and inspire them to make a real impact in their classrooms and communities. Recyclebank's partner Domtar Corporation, the sustainable paper company, helped make more green projects a reality by contributing additional donation dollars to participating schools. As part of its support for the Green Schools Program, in 2014 Domtar also planned to award a year's supply of Domtar EarthChoice® Office Paper to the school with the most innovative project.
Since 2007, the Recyclebank Green Schools Program has awarded close to $500,000 to more than 150 schools for projects designed to creatively improve their schools. Each year participating schools, their students and their communities work to encourage residents to donate Recyclebank points that the company then transfers into real dollars for schools—turning a community's green actions into funds for a local school. Because of this year's impressive submissions, Recyclebank is also funding up to 50 percent of each proposal that did not meet its goal.
In addition to providing a year's supply of paper to the C.W. Henry School, Domtar awarded $500 to each school that was able to reach 50 percent of its donation goal. More than half of the 29 participating schools reached 50 percent of their fundraising goals and will receive funds from Domtar.
With the launch of the new online shop, One Twine, Recyclebank also announced that it will donate 5% of profits to the Green Schools Program.
On Earth Day 2014 (April 22), Recyclebank launched One Twine, a new online shop to discover carefully vetted products that are better for your home, your wallet and the planet. In addition to discovering socially and environmentally conscious goods, customers will also find great deals on the products they love on OneTwine.com. To get even more value, Recyclebank members can apply the points they've earned for learning how to live more sustainably and taking actions toward purchases on One Twine.
Building on Recyclebank's expertise in sustainability, every item on One Twine has been evaluated through their Impact Lens, a list of nine criteria that consider the product's total environmental impact. To help people make more informed choices, One Twine clearly displays icons next to each product that highlight which criteria it meets, and includes insightful content related to those principles.
One Twine's Impact Lens considers the following criteria for each product:
- Renewable – Made from recycled materials or renewable resources
- Gentle Impact – Ingredients and by-products are free of harsh chemicals that may be bad for health or the environment
- Fair – Makers of this product were treated fairly
- Sustainably Made – Manufacturer has worked to minimize environmental impact
- Efficient – Product more efficiently uses resources and/or helps reduce pollution
- Promotes Sustainability – This product makes it easier and more convenient to lead a more eco-friendly life
- Reclaimable – This product itself is recyclable, reusable and/or biodegradable
- Smart Packaging – Packaging materials are minimal and/or made from recyclable, reusable or biodegradable materials
- Merchant Buy Back – This product can be re-sold or given back to the manufacturer
The name One Twine is a nod to the traditional corner store, the community hub where shopkeepers connected individuals with high-quality, all-natural goods. Purchases at this store were often bound by brown paper and twine—a single thread woven from many fibers. Recyclebank feels this image ties into the online shop’s theme because just like those durable, interwoven threads of twine, they believe that through making small actions and buying great products, people and the brand can be collectively bound for a better future.
At launch, One Twine featured more than 400 products from nearly 30 brands across household, health and beauty, children, pets, and gear and gadgets categories. Shoppers can find a mix of established brands as well as up-and-coming companies.
One Twine now has 1,000 products on the site.
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- Fox, Zoe (2012-03-27). "How One Startup Gamifies Recycling for a Greener World".
- "Recyclebank Funds 29 Eco Projects with Green Schools Program". 2014-05-14.
- "Recyclebank Launches One Twine - A Marketplace for the Conscious Consumer". 2014-04-22.
- Official Site for RecycleBank
- New York Times Article on RecycleBank and founders
- Boston Globe Article on RecycleBank
- Fortune article
- Time article
- Treehugger.com Article on Incentive-Based Recycling
- Profile of Founder Ron Gonen
- List of Ceres Participating Companies
- RecycleBank Provider in Lincoln, Nebraska
- RecycleBank Provider in Omaha, Nebraska
- Municipalities involved