By now we're all aware of the importance of responsibly recycling our unwanted electronics and household materials. We may not be experts, but for the most part, people know of at least a few resources they can use to safely discard their gadgets. If not, use the recycler locator on the right to find a recycling center near you.
Despite increasing environmental consciousness, a lack of tangible motivation for the average American to follow through (other than that warm and fuzzy feeling we get from doing good) may mean it's time we're given a little something extra in exchange for our eco-minded behavior.
Enter the new wave of recycling programs: monetary rewards for recycling contributions. Call it a little nudge to do nature right.
Center stage in this endeavor is RecycleBank, headed up by co-founder and CEO, Ron Gonen. RecycleBank provides curbside pick-up of your recyclable materials, records the amount recycled with embedded bar codes in RecycleBank containers, and converts that amount into RecycleBank points usable for ordering rewards. Sounds like a big win for you and Mother Nature, right?
For each pound of recyclable materials, curbside members can earn 2.5 RecycleBank points, redeemable with such partners as Bed Bath and Beyond, CVS, Sears, Target.com, and many more, while also providing community promotion and recognition for participating businesses. Currently serving Philadelphia and parts of Delaware, RecycleBank is sure to extend its reach much further as a leader in reward-based recycling.
Don't have a curbside program? ecoNEW's trade-in recycling program allows you to ship your old products using a prepaid shipping label and feel at ease that items are recycled properly as they are sold back to the manufacturer. All you have to do is select the product online and describe its condition. In return, you receive a reward from participating retailers that can be cashed in for a few more inches on that flat screen or more memory in your next laptop.
Are old, unwanted computers on your recycling agenda? Look to GreenCitizen to clear out computers gathering dust in your corner. Currently limited to Silicon Valley and San Francisco, GreenCitizen provides pick-up and drop-off service for convenient, safe and accountable recycling of your PC. They also provide Recycle Reward gift cards and partner incentives with purchase coupons to joint advertising and sponsorships.
Select retailers are even jumping on the bandwagon, providing their own forms of incentives for recycling electronics. Best Buy now offers electronics recycling options at all of its U.S. stores, where consumers can bring in up to 2 units per day, per household, and be reimbursed with a $10 gift card (however there is a $10 fee for any item with a screen). Staples now offering cash for your old materials as well, providing $3 in Staples Rewards in exchange for bringing empty ink and toner cartridges into stores.
Shedding a humanitarian light on recycling incentives
For those of you who enjoy a piece of the pie, as well as peace of mind, the following are recycling companies that create usable, safe products for underprivileged individuals from your recycled goods.
Close the Gap makes reused and refurbished computers available to underprivileged individuals in Africa and other developing countries.
Digital Link has distributed over 50,000 reused computers to the developing world and provided access to technology for over 125,000 individuals. Digital Links uses professional refurbishing companies who provide data erasure, testing, upgraded hardware and safe disposal of non reusable equipment.
Inveneo, a non-profit social enterprise whose mission is to empower people in remote and underserved communities through access to computing and communications will take old flash drives (otherwise known as USB memory sticks) and get them into the hands of students, aid workers and small business entrepreneurs in the developing world.