Curbside Rewards recycling

For some people, the warm, fuzzy feeling they get from doing their part to help the planet is all the reward they need to recycle. Others need a bit more incentive.

That’s the idea behind the Curbside Rewards program in Omaha, NE. Local residents who participate in the program chuck their unsorted recyclables into a wheelie bin every other week. Newspapers, cardboard, paperback books, junk mail, aluminum and tins cans and plastics 1, 2, 3 and 5 are all accepted.

The bin is placed on the curb, where it is picked up by First Star Recycling, a local company, and weighed by the recycling truck. The amount of recycled material is recorded and sent to the household’s account with Recyclebank, an organization that helps people earn rewards for completing everyday tasks that help the environment.

The weight is converted to points (2.75 points for every pound of recyclable material). The account holder can then convert those points into coupons at restaurants, home improvement stores, beauty salons, movie theaters, photography studios, golf courses and more. Points are redeemed online or by calling Recyclebank’s customer service line.

It’s a win-win situation. Landfills and incinerators don’t fill up as fast. Businesses get more recyclable material they can sell. Consumers save money. Local governments get the coveted higher recycling rates.

The program has proved so popular that Curbside Rewards has spread to other Nebraska cities, including Kearney, Columbus, Grand Island, Fremont, South Sioux City and Nebraska City, meaning more Nebraskans than ever are getting in on the recycling-for-rewards program.