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Recyclebank & eBay collaborate to promote reuse

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Ever found it odd that, generally, you have to pay for recycling service? After all, the materials you place in those blue bins are commodities that your recycling service will sell. You might argue that paying people a cut of the revenues generated from the sale of such materials could work better to increase recycling rates (though, in fairness, the prices for such materials are relatively low… though they have been rising).

Philadelphia-based Recyclebank was founded on this concept. While the company doesn’t actually pay people for recycling, it offers a rewards program similar to airline miles or credit card points. The idea’s caught on: since a 2004 pilot launch the company’s home town, Recyclebank now operates in nine states and the UK.

While this is a great concept for getting more people to recycle, it’s also focused on the last element of the mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle”… and that catchy maxim also represents a hierarchy. Recyclebank is now teaming up with online auction and sales site extraordinaire eBay to move up the chain, as it were, and offer rewards for reuse. eBay’s Green Team director Amy Skoczlas Cole thinks the partnership makes perfect sense:

“Thousands of eBay sellers have built successful businesses by recycling, re-using and re-selling products that already exist and may otherwise have ended up in landfills. Our relationship with RecycleBank offers an innovative way to encourage and reward green-conscious consumers who are looking for more sustainable ways to shop.”

eBay’s even commissioned research to examine the lighter environmental impact of purchasing used goods. According to the findings,

  • Choosing a new-to-you blender saves 95% of the CO2 needed to produce a new one
  • Selecting a refurbished smart phone saves the energy equivalent of driving 186 miles
  • Choosing a classic, previously loved watch saves the energy equivalent of 39 days of refrigerator use

The partnership with Recyclebank seems to serve mainly to get people to join eBay’s Green Team: you earn 50 Recyclebank points for doing that. It will be interesting to see if this program broadens out more to offer rewards for buying used… seems like a logical next step, and a great incentive. The points can be used for Recyclebank-affiliated merchants, for eBay discounts, or even for donations to the Recyclebank Green Schools Program.

Seems like the beginning of a fruitful partnership… we’ll be interested to see where this goes. Are you a Recyclebank user, or an eBay junkie? Think rewarding people to reuse or recycle makes a lot of sense? Let us know what you think…

Image credit: eBay Green Team site