Recycle in Philly and Make Bank

City set to announce rewards program for residents who recycle, but should they?

Imagine getting paid to recycle. Would you be more inclined to separate plastic from paper, food from cardboard if it meant an extra $240 a year?

Philadelphia hopes so. City officials plan to announce Thursday a new program that would reward residents who participate in curbside recycling.

Called the Recycling Rewards Program, residents who placed that blue bin on the curb will earn points that can be used for discounts, gift cards, or charitable contributions at local and national merchants and non-profits.

It will be the largest incentive-based recycling program in the country and is expected to divert thousands of tons of materials away from costly landfills.

Currently, only seven percent of Philly households recycle, according to the Recycling Alliance of Philadelphia. Officials hope the program will cause that statistic to climb.

A similar program is already up and running across the river in Cherry Hill, N.J. and within just six months of starting, the township saw an 80 percent increase.

But recycling is the law in Philadelphia. We were the first major city to pass a law requiring it and now we're ranked eighth in program participation.

So that begs the question, should people be rewarded for following the law?

Yes, and let me tell you why.

Just as I sat down to write this piece, I was confronted by a coworker for not recycling. Here's our conversation:

“Is that your lemonade?” the staffer asked me as he looked down at the empty plastic bottle I had thrown in the trash can.

“Yes,” I replied, hesitantly.

“You know you should recycle that.”

"Yes," and with that I picked the bottle out of the trash and sent it on its way to be reclaimed.

As my careless disregard for the environment proved, we all need a bit of motivation, whether it is monetary reward or the terrible wrath of an eco-warrior.

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