Phoenix halts contract with RecycleBank

City says the incentive program has failed to meet expectations.

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The city of Phoenix reportedly has canceled its recycling incentive program with RecycleBank two years after the city began a $2 million annual program with the New York-based company.

An online article on AZCentral.com indicates Phoenix officials had hoped the program that incentivizes residents to recycle with gift cards and other retail discounts would help it meet a goal of diverting 40 percent of its municipal solid waste (MSW) from the landfill by 2020.

According to the article, the Phoenix city government terminated its contract with RecycleBank in July after about two years and some $3.3 million spent.

A Phoenix Public Works Department employee the news organization quotes says though Phoenix has lifted its diversion rate to 33 percent, it did not believe RecycleBank was critical to the increase.

The article also quotes a statement from RecycleBank CEO Paul Winn, which says in part RecycleBank’s promotional efforts had greatly helped to familiarize Phoenix residents with the city’s recycling program.

But one Phoenix City Council representative the article refers to has been critical of the nearly $9.9 million budgeted over several years to be spent with RecycleBank, saying it was a lot of taxpayer money spent “to talk about recycling.”

The $6 million allocated to RecycleBank but not yet spent may go toward other recycling education efforts, including one mentioned in the AZCentral.com article that applies “Oops!” tags to recycling bins with incorrect items in the bin and “Shine on” tags when bins are properly used.