Get pumped, crunk and amped all up in this muthafucka, recycling fans!
City Hall yesterday officially launched ReCART, Atlanta's new "incentive-based" recycling program. If your household is one of the lucky 10,000 randomly selected to receive the 96-gallon recycling bin pictured to the right, you can start earning restaurant discounts and pharmacy deals just for tossing out your beer cans! It's brilliant, ya drunks!
The program, a partnership between the city's department of public works, Coca-Cola and Rehrig Pacific, is aimed at improving Atlantans' recycling habits, helping residents save money, and making the city more sustainable. RecycleBank, the private company that manages the reward program, says similar efforts in 21 states have increased recycling program participation rates.
Depending on how much they recycle, selected households earn points which can be redeemed at local and national businesses. A department spokeswoman says local participating businesses include Radial, Zoo Atlanta, Ritas Water Ice, Edgewood Avenue Pizza, and Six Feet Under locations.
Sounds great! One quick question: how much will it cost taxpayers?
A city spokeswoman tells CL that thanks to Coca-Cola the giants blue bins were free. The city's trash and recycling crews will continue to pick up curbside recycling. Collected materials will still be delivered to and deposited at the College Park recycling facility.
The spokeswoman says Rehrig Pacific will be paid $175,000 to handle the delivery of new bins, manage data, repair carts, and act as a liaison between RecycleBank and the city. It's a one-year contract with a two-year extension option.
So is the whole endeavor worth the money and effort for the city? One could argue the program's unfair, since the city is only offering an incentive to a fraction of its residents to start rolling their bins to the curb. And there are also one or two other problems politicos could tackle.
The larger containers are a good idea. (If you're like some eco-conscious folks we know, your standard-issue bin fills up fast.) And now there's now a financial incentive for people who don't recycle to not toss away their cans and bottles. That's a win-win for them, participating businesses, and any company or store that sells products a person can later recycle. Single men, confident these IKEA discounts will be a deciding factor for someone in search of a mate, will include their point count on Craigs List ads. Just watch.
Last we heard, Atlanta's trash is trucked to and dumped in private landfills outside the city limits. The city pays the landfill what's called a "tipping fee." Despite Georgia boasting some of the lowest average tipping fees in the country, the cost adds up. Especially when you consider that Atlantans toss away a shitload of stuff they could recycle. (How much do tipping fees cost the city every year? We couldn't tell you off the bat.)
But in theory: if more residents recycle, less money could be spent on disposing materials that have a second life. People will have an incentive to visit local businesses. And it goes without saying it's good for the environment. If residents embrace the program, this could be a good idea. (Sounds like a new project for B at Terminal Station.)
This being Atlanta, things can always go wrong. But it's worth a shot. To paraphrase my pseudonymous colleague Cecil Adams, who was talking about recycling as a whole: We're in the midst of an experiment, and we'd be foolish at this stage to prejudge the results.
(If you're one of those recycling wonks who found this post via a "RecycleBank" Google Alert, or just an average Joe who's participated in a similar program, let me know about your experiences.)
(Courtesy Department of Public Works, Blingee courtesy of He Who Shall Not Be Named)
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