Monday, May 9, 2011

New Recycling Program Would Earn Points for Residents to Spend at Local Businesses

A new currency?

Posted by: Noël Jones

Colin McEvoy reported in the Express-Times last week that Mayor Panto has proposed a new curbside recycling program for Easton that would not only pay for itself, but pay participating residents points that could be used at local businesses. City Council still has to vote to
approve the new contract, but if approved, it would go into effect this October. Participating businesses that have agreed to accept the points so far are: Coca-Cola, Bed Bath and Beyond, SC Johnson, Dick's Sporting Goods and Olive Garden. The city is talking to other businesses to continue to add to the list where points would be able to be used. I am going on record as officially excited about this creative problem-solving solution as it takes into account the need to activate resident self-interest as a component to tangible neighborhood improvement. 

Keep an eye on Easton's City Council Agenda by clicking here (or by using the link to local government that is always listed on the right-hand side of this homepage) so that you can plan to show up and speak up to support this program if you want it to see it happen!


Anonymous said...

Cool. Another great idea from the city. I recycle most of the waste we genreate and it bothers me to see my neighbors placing everything in the garbage. Plus, the single stream is now so easy that there really is no excuse. Great idea and great for the environment.

peterkc said...

Sorry, but I respectfully disagree.

Everybody likes a free gift, but I think this is a misguided approach, an attempt to manipulate people by adding artificial rewards. And the proposed plan does not encourage residents to actually reduce the amount of single-use packaging and containers

The way to get more people to recycle is not to add rewards, but to place the cost where it belongs: on trash that goes to the landfill. In communities that adopt a 'Pay As You Throw'' program -- where residents pay a small fee for each bag or container of trash -- cities and towns are seeing a 40%-50% reduction in the amount of solid waste going to the landfills and a corresponding increase in recycling and composting.

Residents' total cost may even decrease, since the fees pay for the costs of waste disposal. Recycling, on the other hand, should be entirely free to residents, with any costs paid by the proceeds from selling the collected recyclables and surplus from the PAYT fees.

To learn more about the extremely successful PAYT program, contact me or see the EPA's PAYT website at:

Peter Crownfield

P.S. - If you haven't seen our new Sustainable Lehigh Valley directory, pick up a free copy at Cosmic Cup or other local businesses!

noel jones said...

peterkc--that's really interesting--i've never heard of that program--but why not both? a punishment on one end and a reward on the other?

Westworder said...

I think the PAYT Program is a great idea but who and how would the city implement this?

1.We already can't get people to pay their utility and refuse bills.
2.The city currently bills the property owner and you would have to bill tenants or expect them to purchase a special bag or tag.

3 In addition, I read that a community of 27,000 has 3 people administering this program. The City reduced its workforce and isn't filling jobs. They would have to hire 3 people to run this program. Where would that money come from?????

4. Who pays for the educational literature and other costs to implement this program? Recycle Bank does most of this according to the news article.

I'm sure the Mayor looked into this program and found that the recycle bank is the best program for the city.

Dennis R. Lieb said...

I wouldn't make any assumptions about what the city did or did not do before proposing this plan. They didn't ask anyone in the community about the new street lights, which are patently awful in every way - before installing them, but that is a topic for another day.

And all the business's mentioned are national corporate chains. Wouldn't we want to work something like this into the local economy to get people to shop at independently owned operations? My point is that it is always our job to bring better ideas forward regardless of whether we like the city's direction on things or not. We can always do better.

And as for facilitating a pay-per-bag option with tenant properties; I am sure that the places that use this process are not dealing with 100% owner occupied buildings, so there is obviously a mechanism to deal with it. People are hard-wired to do things to avoid pain (extra trash charges) way before they do anything that brings discretionary benefits (coupon programs).

Peter, thanks. I'm with you on this one.


Anonymous said...

To address DRL's comments -- I LOVE the new lights and the fact that the city is reducing it's KWH by 600,000 per year for a savings of almost $48,000 (as reported in the media). My block is brighter and now safer. However, I believe, but I am not positive, that you will find that the city had little to do with this program. I believe Met-Ed was forced to do this by the federal government.

Secondly, it was clearly stated that the people who manage the recycling rewards program are the ones that will be recruiting local businesses to join in the program. That was clearly explained in the article that I read. The individual also stated that there are national stores and services as well. You may not like the national stores but many of my neighbors do but I think its great that they will have locals as well.

As for your third point -- I also disagree. I think any program like that would lead to blatant dumping of garbage all over the city. I looked at some of the research and it appears this pay as you throw program works great in suburbs, not in cities.

Be that as it may, it would be nice if we stuck to the facts. This is progressive for Easton, I like the idea, I like the lights and I believe they both help protect the environment and our natural resources.

Alan Raisman said...

I cannot say positive or negative remarks about the Pay As You Go program or this program because I have not studied either at length, but I do want to discuss local business participation in this proposed program. I feel that this is a lose-lose situation for local business.

If local businesses do participate, they will be lose revenue because they will be forced to provide different rewards for the various levels of recycling. If businesses raise their prices to help fund these rewards, consumers will notice and stop shopping there.

If businesses do not participate, they will lose revenue because those who recycle will go to the businesses that are providing rewards. As we all know, because the city wants to promote the recycling program, they will and should advertise which businesses participate so people can become more environmentally friendly.

I am a big advocate of local business, and I am afraid that local business will lose either way because people want to go green. I feel that local businesses should not be recruited because of these factors. Chain stores and restaurants can support programs like this. Local businesses, I feel, cannot.

Anonymous said...

the only local businesses that cn make it in this economy are those that provide quality products and/or services and offering reward points to garner more business is certainly a proven method of growing a business.

For example, I as a WW resident may never go to a certain store or business but if they offer me a reason to go there I may go back time and time again. Its an incentive for a business to earn my business. Buy two entrees and get 20% off. That's a win win.