Incentive Based Recycling as a Component of Integrated Waste Management

RecycleBank: Does paying people to recycle increase waste diversion?


Friday, September 23, 2005, 3:30 PM

Room 833 SWM Building

Scott Kaufman, Doctoral Candidate

Earth and Environmental Engineering

Research Director, RecycleBank



Recycling is widely viewed as the best option for handling the vast amounts of municipal solid waste (MSW) produced every day across the United States. While some cities (Portland, OR, Seatlle, WA and San Francisco are three examples) have reached relatively high levels of diversion to recycling, most American cities are lagging far behind targeted levels. RecycleBank, a new company based in Philadelphia, PA, has devised a unique solution to this problem – Incentive Based Recycling (IBR). RecycleBank teams with various businesses to offer monetary incentives for residents to recycle their waste. Using an innovative system of weighing people’s recycleables at the curbside and offering money to spend at partnering businesses based on the amount recycled, RecycleBank hopes to significantly raise recycling rates in cities, towns, and counties across the country.

In this seminar, I will explore the current state of waste management across the country, based largely on the State of Garbage in America report that EEC completed last year (and is working on again this Fall). I will then show results from the first six months of RecycleBank’s pilot IBR program currently being conducted in Philadelphia. Finally, I will lead a discussion on the benefits and possible drawbacks of this IBR program for other cities, particularly New York.