City sends less waste to landfill, thanks to incentives-laden recycling program
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With a new curbside recycling program, Westland, Mich., residents have sent 1,184 fewer tons of waste to the landfill in the past two months, and Mayor William Wild is quite proud: “That amount comes to 2.4 million pounds of waste diverted,” Wild said. “When communities come together for the greater good, they can accomplish amazing things. The city of Westland has witnessed that firsthand.”
Westland, a suburb of Detroit with 86,000 residents, debuted its new program on June 28, after more than 25,000 single-family households received new recycling carts. Recyclables are collected bi-weekly, and households receive rewards for every pound of material they recycle. New York-based RecycleBank manages the rewards program for the city. Households receive 2.5 RecycleBank Points per pound, which can be redeemed for gift cards, special offers and savings at local and national retailers, restaurants, grocers and other establishments.
Before the program’s debut, Westland averaged about 90 tons (180,000 pounds) a month at drop-off recycling locations. The new carts and the rewards-for-recycling program have dramatically changed that figure.
“2.4 million pounds recycled is an astonishing amount,” Wild said. “To put that figure into perspective, your average family sedan weighs 3,000 pounds, which means residents have recycled the equivalent of 790 cars. Financially, the city is saving money too —every ton recycled saves Westland money in landfill tipping fees.”
Local businesses have benefited, as well. “We see that a majority of RecycleBank members use more than half of their earned points with local rewards partners,” RecycleBank co-founder and CEO Ron Gonen said. “This provides economic development and involves the local business community in the city’s recycling effort.”
RecycleBank members have redeemed points for savings at Rite-Aid, Olga’s Kitchen, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ruby Tuesday, and Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar. A variety of Westland businesses are taking part in the program, including the Westland Shopping Center. National partners include Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Target.com and CVS/pharmacy. Participants also can choose to donate their points to charities and local school environmental programs.
Single-stream recycling has been a key factor in the early success of the program. “Families can put all of their recyclables into one recycling container without having to sort paper, plastic, tin and glass separately,” Westland Department of Public Service Director Kevin Buford said. “The more households that recycle, the more they are rewarded for their efforts. Single-stream recycling with RecycleBank has helped Westland to become a better steward of the environment while stimulating the local economy and putting a little money back in the pockets of our residents.”
“It is our responsibility to be caretakers of the Earth,” Mayor Wild added. “Our new recycling program with RecycleBank takes us one step closer to ensuring that our city, our state, our planet, will be healthy for future generations.”
RecycleBank services more than 1 million people across 20 states. By cumulative recycling efforts, those households have recycled more than 200,000 tons of material, saving 130 million gallons of oil and close to 2 million trees. Rochester Hills was the first Michigan city to implement RecycleBank.