Recycling is Broken - But We Can Fix It
You may have heard. Recycling is broken. We produce billions of tons a year of plastic, yet less than 10% of it actually gets recycled. The rest goes to landfills, our oceans or is burned, emitting some harmful chemicals into the air we breathe.
So what the heck is going on? Why are recycling rates so horribly low? Like any problem, the answer can be complex but we found that there is one thing that dramatically improves how much people recycle. Like so dramatic, we are building a whole company on this thing. And the thing is incentives.
Back in the 1980's and 1990's several states created what is now known as bottle deposit programs. The program adds a 5¢ to 10¢ per bottle fee to items you buy and when you return them to the store, you get the deposit back. In the ten states in the U.S. that have those programs, the recycling rate is triple (yes we said triple) the rate of states that do not have those programs.
So - why not just get every state to pass a program? Well - every state has tried. Several times in fact. But no state has been successful because the bottle deposit programs are complicated to administer and take valuable material away from municipalities that need those items to be part of their curbside pick up programs so that they can remain profitable.
Here's the great news. We can fix this. 2020 is a whole different world that 1980. We have smart phones in our pockets. So - we can simply scan the things we recycle, put them in our curbside programs and earn the incentive. It's just that easy. Now we can turn anything that can be recycled into cash, not trash. Every, single, day.