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Recyclebank scores a Waste Management investment.

North America’s largest waste company has hooked up with one of the most high-profile recyclers.

Waste Management Inc. has made “a strategic investment” in the parent company of Recyclebank, Recycle Rewards Inc. It brings together Waste Management’s curbside collection infrastructure, which it says is the largest in the United States, with Recyclebank’s extensive community recycling incentive program.

The specifics of Waste Management’s commitment to Recyclebank aren’t being made public, says spokeswoman Carrie Griffiths.

Waste Management expects to make available Recyclebank’s green rewards program to its nearly 20 million North American customers over the next several years. Also, Recyclebank will take over Waste Management’s Greenopolis social recycling platform, making Recyclebank the leading online recycling rewards program in America, Waste Management said in a news release.

“Our collaboration with Recyclebank gives us a competitive advantage, and, at the same time, incentivizes more recycling by motivating people to change how they consume and dispose,” said David Steiner, president and chief executive officer of Waste Management.

“Our agreement with Waste Management gives us the resources and reach we need to expand our business and motivate and mobilize more people to make a collective, positive impact on the environment,” said Jonathan Hsu, chief executive officer of Recyclebank.

Greenopolis rewards consumers for recycling on the go by combining incentives with advanced collection and tracking technology. Greenopolis has more than 1,000 recycling locations across North America. Recyclebank will incorporate Greenopolis’ web-based rewards catalog into Recyclebank’s rewards program of more than 3,000 local and national businesses to enhance incentive offerngs to its member base.
Recyclebank also will assume management of the Greenopolis social media portfolio, including, RecyclePix and Oceanopolis, the Facebook game that uses social gaming to reward recycling in real life Waste Management joins existing Recyclebank investors RRE Ventures, Sigma Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, The Westly Group, Generation Investment Management, Top Tier Capital Partners, Physic Ventures and Craton Equity Partners.

The move is just another step in Waste Management’s overall strategy, says Michael Hoffman, managing director and director of research for Wunderlich Securities Inc.

“The individual investment itself is incremental,” Hoffman says. “It’s part of a course of action Waste Management is chasing with regards to the harvesting of the waste stream.” And that strategy includes the belief that a ton of waste will continue to be harvested more thoroughly than it has been in the past.

In Hoffman’s view, Recyclebank has changed its business model to be “more of an advertising play than a recycling play.” Recyclebank tries to convince companies that it should be a part of the company’s sustainability plan, and that can prompt related businesses to advertise.
He doesn’t see the move as having a big impact on waste or recycling, although the association with the waste industry’s largest company may give Recyclebank extra credibility with investors, for example.

In fact, “One could argue that Waste Management is late to the party as it relates specifically to Recyclebank,” Hoffman says. Other waste companies already have linked with Recyclebank, including Republic Services Inc., Waste Connections Inc. and Casella Waste Systems Inc.
A separate point that intrigues Hoffman is that Recyclebank has a patent on its process. Numerous smaller, Recyclebank-type companies have since come into the market, but Recyclebank hasn’t gone to court to fight them. “To my knowledge they haven’t defended themselves against any of those,” he says. He asked both Recyclebank and Waste Management why, but he hasn’t gotten an answer.


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