Recycle More, Earn Stuff: Incentive-Based Recycling Comes to Chicago

Mayor Richard Daley announced Saturday the start of a new initiative aimed at increasing recycling efforts through the city's Blue Cart recycling program.

Under the RecycleBank program, households will be encouraged to increase their recycling to receive rewards based on the amount of recyclables they generate. RecycleBank will measure the amount of recycling through the city's Blue Carts and then convert that amount into RecycleBank Points to be redeemed for rewards, gift cards, groceries and products at several local and national reward partners.

RecycleBank incentive partners include companies such as Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Target, Ruby Tuesday and CVS pharmacy, as well as local Chicago businesses, such as Leona's, Moo and Oink, Carson Pirie Scott, County Fair, Treasure Island and the Chicago Childrens Museum. There will also be an option to donate RecycleBank Points to local school environmental programs and non-profit organizations.

Some of the incentives that participating households can earn include:

  • Discounts (ex. 20 percent off)
  • Dollars off (ex.10 off purchase of50 or more)
  • Gift cards
  • Online gift codes
  • Gift certificates
  • Products (t-shirts, cookbooks, movie tickets or toys)

The city selected 10,000 households for the first field test of the RecycleBank rewards program. The areas were selected "because they have the longest data collection from the Blue Cart recycling program and they have a good mix of single family homes and multi-unit buildings," according to a press release on the new program. These routes were also said to be producing smaller quantities of recyclables.

Each Blue Cart in the pilot area will be retrofitted with an ID tag that matches the Blue Cart to the household address and account number, while tracking recycling activity. Upon activating their account with RecycleBank, either online or by phone, the household will begin to earn RecycleBank points.

If the field tests display positive results, the city plans to roll out the program fully to 38,000 households in the city.