Recyclebank Offers Rewards for Green Actions

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more than $85 million, according to Hsu, from investors such as RRE Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Thanks to the influx of cash, the company is looking to make new hires, though no timetable has been announced. Currently the company has just under 180 employees, Hsu says.

In addition to fueling staff growth, Hsu says, some of the funds will go toward extending Recyclebank’s reach into new territories. “The mandate of the company is to be the first mass market green brand,” Hsu says. “We need to have operations ubiquitously throughout the United States and the United Kingdom and look toward other international expansion opportunities.”

Recyclebank is paid by municipalities a percentage of their net savings from increased recycling rates and reductions in the waste stream to landfills, Hsu says. “In its first year with Recyclebank, the city of Hollywood, Florida, saved almost half a million dollars in waste disposal fees,” he says. Still, some clients have not stuck with the program. The New Jersey town of Moorestown, for instance, opted in June to end its participation with Recyclebank. Calls to the township administration for comment were not immediately returned.

Hsu became CEO last October.

Still, Hsu hopes the appeal of rewards for eco-friendly behavior will catch on in more communities. Recyclebank members use their points for discounts on products from such companies as Aveeno, Unilever, and Kashi. (Such companies also pay advertizing and sponsorship fees to Recyclebank, Hsu says.) For example, members can earn 50 points for each Kashi cereal box they recycle. Members must enter a code, printed inside each box, at the Recyclebank website to claim the points. Rewards include discounts with retailers such as Macy’s and Brookstone as well as with eateries such as Ruby Tuesday.

In addition to tracking codes via the Web, the company uses hardware to record recycling behavior, according to Javier Flaim, Recyclebank’s vice president of global marketing. “We put an RFID chip inside recycling containers so if a member puts out recyclables, a truck would pick up the container and measure how many pounds of recyclables were inside the bin,” he says. That technology is used in participating communities which equip trucks and bins for the program. Individuals can earn points, or residents can share points earned by their respective neighborhoods, based on overall poundage.

Hsu says Recyclebank is exploring other ways to reward its members, such as via social badges, which announce users’ recycling accomplishments to followers in their social networks. “The recognition for achieving, especially in terms of sustainability, is an important form of reward,” Hsu says. The company is also contemplating incentives for increased water conservation and green consumer choices in transportation. “There is a real opportunity to further enhance that relationship we have with individual members,” he says. “We can offer them a chance to see the impact of their actions.”

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