Everyone wins in UK’s first recycling rewards scheme

Published on Friday, 25 June 2010 01:00
Written by Cllr Liam Maxwell

After a one-year pilot, the RecycleBank programme – a UK first – is being rolled out to all 61,000 borough households, giving our residents the chance to earn points for their mixed recycling

 New blue wheelie bins are being delivered in a phased programme over the next seven months and recycling will be much easier for everyone. All paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, glass bottles and jars and metal will go into the single blue wheeliebin instead of different boxes.


Households will be awarded points for the amount they recycle, which they can then redeem for discounts and offers at more than 100 local and national retail outlets, restaurants and leisure facilities, or donated to local schools.

The message for our residents is simple: The more you recycle, the more rewards you earn (up to a limit of £135 a year in rewards value).

We were delighted that Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and Caroline Spelman, his counterpart in Environment and Rural Affairs, joined us for the launch on 7 June. Eric Pickles described it as the right way to encourage recycling – in stark contrast to bin taxes which would hit people’s pockets and encourage fly-tipping and backyard bonfires.

He praised the Royal Borough for treating people like adults and with respect and said: “Windsor and Maidenhead have got it right by rewarding people for voluntarily doing the right thing, not penalising them for doing the wrong thing…”

Our pilot scheme, which ran from last June, showed that participating households increased their recycling by an average of 35% and this demonstrates clearly that incentives – not penalties – are the way forward. Councils in other parts of the country are following the Royal Borough’s lead as they look for ways of helping residents change the way they dispose of waste and increase their recycling.

The beauty of the rewards programme is that everyone wins – residents, local businesses, the council and, importantly, our environment with less waste sent to landfill.

The scheme works by fitting electronic tags to the new blue bins with the weight of recycling recorded by equipment in the Veolia Environmental Services collection vehicles.

Since the rewards scheme started a few of our residents have asked us about the information collected through the electronic tags and we have been able to reassure them that we take their right to privacy very seriously indeed. Absolutely no personal details are held in the tag. It is only when residents choose to take part in the scheme by activating their secure RecycleBank account that the weight of recycling in their blue bin is converted into points so that they can claim the rewards they have earned.

UK data protection collection and privacy laws are strictly upheld and if any of our residents choose not to activate their account then the recycling weight information that relates to their property is immediately destroyed.

Redeeming points is just like shopping online. Residents can log into their account through RecycleBank.com to view the number of points they have and the rewards they can redeem them for. They can also redeem their points through the free customer care number, 0800 077 6009.

The first RecycleBank programme began in January 2005 in Pennsylvania, USA and now operates in 30 states.

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