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This article about Recycle Bank is perfectly reasonable--except for the
For one, the author says nothing about deposits in the article. For two, she
appears unaware of the 11 existing deposit-return systems in the US. These
programs produce recycling rates of 70-95% depending on the deposit value;
let's see if the coupons RecycleBank offers can produce the same result.
Will RecycleBank also serve commercial buildings and public spaces where
many away-from-home beverages are consumed? This isn't meant to trash
RecycleBank?not at all?it's merely to point out the elephant in the room:
real deposits. Their financial incentive works all the time, anywhere.
Right now scrap material values are high and the private operators of
RecycleBank will make a profit, and that's all well & good; they should. But
what happens if/when the bottom of the market drops out and they go bust?
The City risks being left with nothing. The beauty of deposits is that they
place the fiscal burden for recycling on the producers of the consumer goods
in the trash: the beverage industry.
RecycleBank is [darn good] private industry, but it ain't producer
On 3/15/06 2:53 PM, "David Biddle" <Dbiddle@no.address> wrote:
> March 15 - Phila. Weekly
> No Deposit, No Return
> Environmentalists hope Philadelphia's new recycling coordinator will expand
> RecycleBank throughout the city.
> by Gwen Shaffer
> When The New York Times ran an article last month about RecycleBank, a
> government official in Saudi Arabia contacted the Philadelphia-based company
> to inquire about bringing the program to the Middle East.
> RecycleBank co-founder Patrick FitzGerald says he wasn't completely surprised
> by the call. "I've heard from countries all over the world ... Belize, France,
> the U.K., even Senegal."
> Ironically, Philadelphia's own Streets Department is hesitant to sign a
> contract with RecycleBank-which gives store coupons to residents who place
> their recyclables, including plastic and cardboard, on the curb for weekly
> The program has proved wildly popular in the West Oak Lane and Chestnut Hill
> sections of the city, where a yearlong pilot program saw participation rates
> jump from 15 percent to 90 percent. Residents earned up to $400 in credits
> over the year, which they spent at more than 100 shops such as Starbucks, Rite
> Aid, certain merchants at the Reading Terminal Market and TLA Video.
> FitzGerald says he's also talking with officials in Boston, Atlanta and
> Charlotte, N.C., about implementing the program citywide in these cities.
> Philadelphia officials have balked at expanding the RecycleBank program to all
> 500,000 households here, insisting that the cost is prohibitive.
> Environmentalists who've watched Philadelphia's recycling rate slide downward
> for the past decade counter that the Streets Department can't afford not to
> bring RecycleBank to every neighborhood.
> The Philadelphia controller issued a report last August concluding that not
> only is the Streets Department violating Philadelphia's mandatory recycling
> ordinance, but increasing recycling collection rates could save taxpayers $17
> million annually in landfill costs. Rather than implement the controller's
> recommendations, the Streets Department refuted his findings.
> But two events make local environmentalists hopeful that reforms are on the
> horizon. Just last week a new recycling coordinator took the helm of
> Philadelphia's floundering recycling program. In addition, City Council is in
> the process of holding budget hearings, and the Streets Department is likely
> to face tough questions about lagging recovery rates when it testifies March
> 15. Council members Jannie Blackwell, Blondell Reynolds-Brown and Michael
> Nutter have expressed support for a citywide rollout of RecycleBank.
> The Streets Department is negotiating with RecycleBank to expand the program
> to 10,000 additional homes in Philadelphia (in addition to the 2,500
> households already participating in the pilot program). FitzGerald stresses
> that no deal has been reached.
> "We're still in negotiations with RecycleBank right now," confirms Streets
> Department spokesperson Emily Buenaflor.
> Even if the two parties agree on a contract, recycling advocates remain
> unimpressed. "At this rate it would take 52 years for the program to become
> citywide," points out Maurice Sampson II, who served as Philadelphia's first
> recycling coordinator.
> He's working with a coalition of local advocacy groups on the Recycle NOW
> Philadelphia Campaign. Members are hosting a series of forums in neighborhoods
> around the city and urging civic associations to lobby the Streets Department
> to "demand" incentive-based recycling in their own neighborhoods, as well as
> running a petition campaign to raise awareness about the issue.
> "And our big push this month is to get a huge turnout for the City Council
> budget hearing March 29," says Emily Linn, who works on recycling for the
> Clean Air Council.
> But environmentalists aren't waiting till the end of the month to rally the
> troops. During a March 2 forum in Center City, members of the Recycling
> Alliance noted that RecycleBank is "the only thing" to effectively boost
> recycling participation rates in the past 10 years. For instance, the Streets
> Department spent about $3 million to publicize its curbside recycling program
> last year, yet participation continued to lag.
> "We get accused of acting as a marketing arm for RecycleBank," Sampson told
> the 75 or so people who attended the forum. "We're not, but we do believe in
> incentive-based recycling, and no one else is doing it."
> In the meantime, Joan Hicken took over as Philadelphia recycling coordinator
> last week. Hicken had served since 1999 as recycling coordinator for Glendale,
> Ariz., a city with a population of about 225,000.
> Evan Belser, program organizer for Clean Water Action, credits Hicken with
> leading "a very successful" curbside program in Glendale. "She built it from
> the ground up," he adds, noting that Glendale recently achieved about a 19
> percent recycling rate.
> "We're very excited to have Joan coming on board. She's going to bring a lot
> of knowledge and experience to our city," Buenaflor says.
> Hicken was one of two candidates for the recycling coordinator position
> recommended by Philadelphia's Recycling Advisory Committee. Belser, who
> participated in the selection process, says he was impressed with Hicken's
> experience developing a recycling program "from its infancy."
> "She has no misconception of the challenges awaiting her arrival," he says.
> As local environmentalists turn up their efforts to publicize RecycleBank,
> Streets Department commissioner Clarena Tolson is countering with her own
> public outreach. At the Philadelphia Flower Show last Thursday she
> demonstrated how to incorporate recycled materials into gardening.
> "As an added bonus," according to a press release issued by Tolson's office,
> she offered "beautification tips" by explaining how to transform old tires
> into flower planters and how to create "garden lighting from plastic bottles."
> David Biddle <http://blueolives.blogspot.com>
Jennifer S. Gitlitz
2 Pomeroy Ave.
Dalton, MA 01226
Tel. (413) 684-4746
Mobile: (413) 822-0115
Fax: (413) 403-0233
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