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Recycling rewards program explained

December 01, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- As part of ongoing discussions about a potential curbside recycling program, the Washington County Commissioners heard Tuesday about an incentive program that would reward households based on how much they recycle.

A company called RecycleBank offers a program in which each recycling bin is weighed upon pickup and residents are awarded points, based on the weight, that they can redeem at retail partners like CVS or Target. The points also can be donated to a local school, said Cliff Engle, who heads the county's department of solid waste.

Participating in RecycleBank would add about $2.25 per month to each household's collection charge, depending on the program details, but households could more than recover that extra cost in the form of rewards, Engle said.

The potential incentives households can earn through the program are about $200 a year or more, he said.

Engle also reported to the commissioners on a recycling study in King County, Wash., which included data on the shift from a drop-box program to a curbside program in Auburn, Wash., a city with a population similar to that of Washington County.

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In Auburn, the switch to curbside recycling more than doubled the estimated number of pounds of material each household recycled per year, and almost tripled the percentage of households that participated in the recycling program, Engle said.

The commissioners have been considering whether implementing curbside recycling is worth the cost of the program. Currently, only Hagerstown and Williamsport offer curbside recycling, with recycling drop boxes offered for the rest of the county.

Engle has said that a countywide recycling program, including the municipalities, would cost $2.6 million to $3 million a year to operate.

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