Residents Pushed to Recycle, Help Borough Win $100K
By keeping track of recycling, residents can help Chatham's chances of earning grant.
The borough was chosen as the one town throughout New Jersey to compete in Recyclebank's nationwide "50 State Challenge," already in progress.
"You just have to register with Recyclebank, and track how often you recycle," Fife said.
Residents can report their recycling to Recyclebank via an online account or by telephone. Each new participant in the program increases the town's chances of winning a $100,000 grant from S.C. Johnson, the prize in the contest.
The contest is based on participation, not volume or tonnage of recycled materials. Whichever town has the highest participation rate at the end of the contest on Dec. 31 wins the grant, which must fund a local green project.
"We just stood there and asked people, 'Do you recycle?' Once we started with that, people were very willing to talk to us," Fife said.
Fife typed up label stickers reminding residents to register on Recyclebank. Some even took sheets of the stickers to hand out to their family, friends and neighbors.
Patrick Russell, of Waste Management, the borough's vendor for recycling collection, recommended Chatham Borough to Recyclebank for the contest. Russell has previously told the council he was shocked by how much recycling borough residents did.
When Recyclebank asked Russell to recommend a municipality from New Jersey for the contest, Russell said to the council, "I immediately thought of Chatham."
Once the contest ends, the incentives for borough residents to recycle will continue. Through Recyclebank, residents can accumulate points which can be redeemed for products by manufacturers and stores such as Aveeno, Origins, Macy's, Bed, Bath & Beyond or with local vendors.
"But even when we told them that, people didn't care about getting the discounts," Resto said of his day at the market. "They cared about getting the points for Chatham."
The Chatham Borough Council voted to participate in Recyclebank's discount offers for a trial period of 24 months, free of charge. After that, Buck said the borough will be under no obligation to remain with Recyclebank.