Yesterday marked a great day in green business history.
North America’s largest recycler, Waste Management (WM), made a landmark investment in Recyclebank, which is the leading rewards platform for people taking green actions. In the world of sustainable business, the scope and significance of this deal is largely unprecedented. Here’s why:
- Innovation Engine – Waste Management and Recyclebank are thought leaders. In fact, both companies are re-defining their respective industries; WM is transforming from a trash hauler to environmental solutions provider and Recyclebank has created the most engaging technology platform to incentivize greener living. While many strategic alliances fail, there is reason to be optimistic because sustainability is at the core of both companies’ mission, vision and strategy. The combination of WM’s infrastructure and resources and Recyclebank’s information technology and marketing chops suggests a new sustainable business model is on the horizon.
- Scale – Environmental problems are complex and typically transcend geographic boundaries. Solutions are best carried out locally, but large organizations have the reach to support change far and fast. For example, Recyclebank is under 10 years old and already runs its rewards program in 30 U.S. states. The partnership with WM will accelerate the joint companies’ expansion into more domestic communities and international territories such as Canada and Brazil. This will spread existing best practices and spur new community-based solutions.
- Social Recycling – Part of the deal includes Recyclebank taking charge of WM’s Greenopolis unit, which uses interactive technology to educate and reward people for recycling. The Greenopolis portfolio includes social games, a photo-sharing App and roughly 1,000 high-tech recycling kiosks throughout the U.S., resulting in over 20 million bottles and cans collected to date. Recyclebank boasts one of the most active online green communities, cultivated through social media experiences such as its flagship “Green Your” challenges, which exemplify the “gaming for good” movement. The common thread between these companies is an emphasis on fun. Recycling is transformed into an enjoyable, collective experience that benefits the person, community and planet as a whole.
If I sound excited, I am. In the spirit of transparency, I’ve dealt with many people involved. That’s because the social enterprise community is small – but passionate and growing rapidly – and our personal and professional endeavors overlap. This is not our job, it’s our lifestyle.
At both the individual and institutional levels, we need cooperation to make green the new mainstream. The Waste Management and Recyclebank alliance forms a green Dream Team. Play ball!