Chicago has struggled in recent years to launch a sustainable recycling program. We can all recall the 'blue bag" program that required residents to buy their own bags in order to recycle. That went nowhere and was then replaced with the "blue bins" that also seem to be largely ignored if they can be found at all. Thus, it's not surprising that the city is making another attempt. This time is just might work. Why? Chicago is going to try a new tactic - paying you by the pound for your recyclables. Yes, that's right, the city proposes paying you for your trash!
Chicago has contracted with RecycleBank to test a recycling program with 10,000 south side households. The program will work like this: for every pound of trash recycled, a household will receive points from RecycleBank which can then be redeemed on the company's web site for gift cards and discount cards at participating retailers. RecycleBank estimates that the value of the points offered to the local community could exceed $500,000 for new business injected back into the local economy from trash. The program launched August 1, 2009 and covers the 5th, 8th and 19th Wards of Chicago which include the Beverly, Beverly West and Mt. Greenwood neighborhoods.
Let's hope this third attempt at recycling in Chicago actually works. The initial prospects look good. If the City can save money by recycling and its residents see a direct benefit too, then the program stands a good chance.