Los Angeles introduces new recycling initiative

The City of Los Angeles unveiled RecycleBank this week, a pilot program designed to encourage recycling by giving points that can be used for goods at some retail stores, according the Los Angeles Times.

Program participants are given a specialized recycling bin that is recognized by RecycleBank trucks. Such bins are equipped with electronic identification tags that allow RecyleBank to compensate participants accordingly, based on the weight of their recyclables.

People can redeem the RecycleBank points at certain retailers; currently more than 1,000 restaurants and stores accept the points, including El Pollo Loco, Tritsch True Value Hardware, CVS, Bed Bath & Beyond and Ruby Tuesday.

Though Los Angeles already recycles about 65 percent of recyclable waste, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told the Times he wants to make his city “the cleanest, greenest big city in America.”

“We are building innovative partnerships that will employ outside resources … to motivate residents to recycle more and pump money directly back into the local economy,” Villaraigosa said.

RecycleBank Chief Executive Ron Gonen said he believed the program will work because it gives people an economic incentive for recycling their beer bottles, old newspapers, plastic and other recyclables.

“For too long, people viewed doing things for the environment as the right thing to do but costly,” said RecycleBank Chief Executive Ron Gonen to the Times. “I wanted to start a movement that said smart environmental decisions were also smart economic decisions. Recycling could have the biggest impact in terms of changing that view and behavior because it touches every house.”

RecycleBank currently works with more than 50 cities in the United States. In Los Angeles, only about 15,000 homes in Los Angeles are eligible for the program, which will begin April 5 after registrants are outfitted with the specialized bins.

The pilot program will run for one to two years, according to Enrique Zaldivar, the Los Angeles director of the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation.