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The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

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A new reason to recycle

RecycleBank has established a system that makes recycling really pay off.

As Earth Day approaches along with the end of the semester, students likely have a lot more on their minds than planting trees. Those soon to graduate have diminishing employment opportunities to worry about, for one thing. Also, the cost of food continues to rise across the globe, and we are all worried about the impact that will have on our bank accounts. There is one company, however, that is aiming to bridge the separation between worrying about the economy and taking care of the Earth.

RecycleBank, working primarily in the Northeastern part of the United States since 2004, aims to give people an economic incentive to recycle. By installing a computer chip in recycling containers, pick-up crews can track a family’s weight in recycling. RecycleBank attaches points to the weight, and families can use the points to save at participating businesses of their choosing. And the monetary incentive appears to be working – one neighborhood saw recycling rates rise from under 10 percent to 90 percent.

RecycleBank has more recently implemented a similar program at Columbia University that works the same way for students living on campus. Students can bring their recyclables to a kiosk, insert an ID card, and be rewarded with monetary incentives.

Bottling companies are also finding economic incentives to recycle more. As the cost of production rises because of the expense of materials, it becomes more appealing to use a higher rate of recycled materials and to implement a method for easier utilization of those materials.

RecycleBank currently has agreements with more than 250 companies that users can select from to redeem their points. Users can even aid in getting new businesses to sign up for the program.

While it is saddening that it may take monetary incentives to get people to recycle, RecycleBank’s program looks promising, and we look forward to watching its impact on landfills and citizens’ sense of personal accomplishment in taking care of the Earth.

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