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County to look at recycling points system
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People who have been mystified at the countywide recycling rewards program may be getting some help in figuring the system out.

Effingham County commissioners discussed the RecycleBank rewards program with Art Smith of Republic, the county’s waste hauler, and how residents could better take advantage of the program.

Smith explained to commissioners that residents on the county’s sanitation system who want to take part in the RecycleBank program have to be registered and must have an account in order to collect points for recycling. Recycling is collected every other week.

“They go into their account and they click they have recycled, and they receive some points for reporting or they report the time they recycle or they report once a month,” Smith said. “There are some residents who are not aware how they do this.”

County staff said they will try to help those residents who want to be in the program and don’t know how to do so or are having problems keeping up with their account, especially those who do not have Internet access or email. Those with email who have registered for the points rewards system receive email alerts.

“It is a much easier system if you have email,” County Administrator David Crawley said.

Crawley said the county can work with those people who do not have computers or get updates by email. Those who have signed up for the points rewards can participate by calling a toll-free number each time they put their recycling cart out for pickup.

“We could easily print a card that has the information on it,” Crawley said.

Commissioner Steve Mason said he has received questions and had questions of his own about the program, which began in January.

“But what I didn’t know was people had to sign in every week,” he said. “That’s not what I sold people on. That’s not what I understood.”

Mason pointed out that it is mostly older residents, especially those who do not use the Internet and don’t use e-mail, who are struggling with grasping the rewards program.

“Those are the ones I’m hearing the most from. A lot of us take it for granted that everyone has Internet at their house and the folks who live there are Internet capable,” he said. “And I think it goes down to the each time thing, having to log on and say they did it.”

Mason said although he has not signed up for the rewards program, he and his family recycle. Smith pointed out that Republic sent out letters with the new recycling carts for customers, explaining how the system works and what residents need to do to take part.

Customers also can report their recycling to the RecycleBank program once a month, along with informing the program they have recycled when it’s time for their material to be collected.

“They do have to register in order to get their points, or the system won’t function properly,” Smith said. “We have to have a way to distribute the points appropriately. Some people may not know they have to report.”

The points system, Smith said, is based on self-reporting, and points are awarded based on the tonnage of recycling picked up on a route. Those points are distributed among the residents who have registered for the program and those points can be exchanged for discounts at a variety of stores and businesses.

“It’s an incentive to get people to recycle,” Smith said.

Commissioner Phil Kieffer recalled a public information session about the recycling program held at the county offices.

“Somebody said, ‘how do we remember to call?’” Kieffer said. “And somebody else said, ‘how do you remember to put your cart out? You put the cart out, you make the call.’”