Legislating Green? - Our Daily Green

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Legislating Green?

image courtesy of Eco Friendly Emporium
This week, the City of Cleveland, Ohio proposed legislation to fine non-recyclers $100.00 by the City of Cleveland. In essence, recycling behavior would be tracked via computer chips in recycling bins and residents who weren't recycling would be subject to trash inspections and fined if they were found not recycling.

This news filled Our Daily Green with mixed feelings. As a strong supporter of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, anything that keeps more trash out of landfills sounds like a good idea. However, if the price is to have Big Brother rifling through trash cans and inspecting garbage, suddenly, it feels more invasive than encouraging. It would seem the municipality could find a better way to encourage recycling.

It would seem that recycling should be second nature to most folks by now, but the reality is, up to 25% of people do not recycle. The most common reasons given are that they don't have the time or do not trust that the items they separate are really recycled, so it is not worth the trouble.

In order to change such perceptions, the consumer needs to feel that items are recycled and that it is worth their time. RecycleBank is a company working to do just that. We've written about their company previously. This innovative trash collection company has partnered with corporate sponsors to provide homes with special recycle bins and the customer accrues rewards for recycled trash. RecycleBank weighs the separated trash and sends the customer coupons or rewards based on the amount recycled. RecycleBank makes profits by saving municipalities landfill fees.

Much like the proposed bins in the City of Cleveland, the trash is still being tracked. However, rather than punishments for noncompliance, the customer receives a reward for compliance. Rather than the threat of a $100 fine, the homeowner has the potential to earn points good for approximately $20/monthly in assorted discounts and rewards.

Positive reinforcement of desired behavior is much more effective than negative. Our Daily Green would like to see the City of Cleveland reconsider their costly and offensive plan and study alternatives. Turning a win/lose proposition into a win/win is the kind of green Our Daily Green gets excited about!

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