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Points by the pound: Allentown begins recycling rewards program

Allentown recycling mascot Single Stream Scottie appears at the launch of the Recyclebank recycling incentive program. /Photo courtesy of Mike Moore.
Allentown recycling mascot Single Stream Scottie appears at the launch of the Recyclebank recycling incentive program. /Photo courtesy of Mike Moore.

Everyone knows that when it comes to the environment, it pays to recycle – and now in Allentown, it actually does pay to recycle.

When residents of the city put out their recycling each week, they will get credit for the amount that is recycled and get points, which they can accumulate and use for products or discounts at a number of local businesses and even some national retailers. The amount of the credit that each household receives will be an average, based on the total amount collected on a particular route.

“This addresses not only recycling but it benefits local businesses. I like that,” said Ann Saurman, manager of the Allentown Bureau of Recycling & Solid Waste.

Ahart’s Market, Papa John’s Pizza locations on 13th Street and Lehigh Street; Rita’s locations at Tilghman Street, Union Boulevard and West Emaus Avenue; Waffle House on Airport Road; and Mountainville Bowling Center are among a growing list of local participants, according to a press release from the city.

National participants include Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Dick’s Sporting Goods and AMC Theatres, and the points also can be used for magazine subscriptions such as for People.

The new recycling incentive program is run through Waste Management Inc., which holds the city’s recycling contract, and Recyclebank, which operates the rewards program.

Saurman noted that the inclusion of the incentive program was part of the proposal Waste Management put forth to obtain its latest contract and did not cost the city any additional money to participate.

“We’d been looking to do something like this for a long time,” Saurman said. ‘We have a pretty good [recycling] participation in Allentown, but this is another incentive.

Saurman noted that it’s pretty easy to participate in Recyclebank.

By now, any eligible city resident should have received a notice in the mail with a unique pincode.

Those who want in on the free program can sign up online, and their recycling efforts will be counted toward the total collection that will be shared by neighbors along their recycling route.

Saurman explained that the company in past years had used barcodes to track individual recycling, but that was cumbersome. Instead, it’s using neighborhood collection as a means to measure participation in Allentown.

That required prep work, as the promotion was linked to addresses in neighborhoods along each route.

The weight of the recycling collected along each route is measured, and participants along that route share in the rewards based on how much is collected.

“That makes it a way to get your neighbors to spread the word about recycling,” she said.

And it might inspire some residents to take the extra few steps to throw away a can or bottle in the recycling bin rather than just tossing it in the garbage with the rest of the trash.

Allentown also expanded its list of items that can be recycled fairly recently, and it might make it worth residents’ while to double check to see if they can be recycling more than they already are.

For a complete list of items recycled in Allentown, click HERE.

For more information on Recyclebank, visit www.recyclebank.com.


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