Republic Services, one of the private waste-management companies that serve Lexington, has begun offering rewards through Recyclebank.
Recycling customers can log on and claim points based on the amount of recycling picked up per day in their neighborhood. Customers can cash in points toward discounts or gift cards at restaurants and stores.
According to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, about 89 percent of households in the urban services area have trash and recycling picked up by the city. That leaves about 11 percent that can hire independent companies, such as Republic, to pick up trash and recycling.
Republic is offering Recyclebank rewards to attract new customers and persuade more old ones to recycle.
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"We're trying to position ourselves as an environmental company," said Ron White, a Republic residential representative. "We can't just be trash haulers. It's the future. ... It does enhance recycling."
White said that programs like Recyclebank boost the amount of stuff that goes into the bins, and there is a lot of room to grow.
"We're seeing a 2 percent diversion of household trash into recycling," he said. "Right now, nationally, it's about 35 percent. About 60 percent of household trash can be recycled."
Where does Republic's recycling go? To the city's recycling center, which sorts it by material and resells the bulk products.
About 89,000 households in Lexington have their bottles, cans, cardboard and newspapers picked up by the city itself.
Mark York, spokesman for the city's Division of Environmental Policy, said the city has looked into Recyclebank but doesn't plan to join, in part because there is a cost involved. Republic, based in Phoenix, has decided to absorb that cost without raising rates, White said.
"The big news is you have a private company that's going to be establishing curbside service as a baseline for its customers," York said.