- Recycle Track Systems (RTS), a New York-based technology company, has acquired Recyclebank for undisclosed terms. Recyclebank's leadership and employees are expected to join the RTS team.
- Recyclebank, which incentivizes recycling through a rewards platform, once had as many as 400 municipal contracts. That number has since declined to 67, following the notable loss of agreements in Phoenix last year and Philadelphia more recently.
- “We saw an opportunity to refresh the brand and reinvigorate the product," RTS CEO Greg Lettieri told Waste Dive. "We will emphasize this product not only as part of our municipal strategy, but part of our commercial strategy – including potentially for zoning in New York City."
This is the first acquisition for RTS since it launched in 2015 and follows a busy period for the company, which provides service via partnerships with local haulers. RTS, which completed a second round of funding this year, also recently announced the appointment of Allyn Shaw as president and CTO. The former Bank of America executive is expected to oversee the expansion of RTS' technology platform, which interacts with both haulers and customers and will include integration with Recyclebank's service.
"Its approach to innovation, and the way Recyclebank leverages technology to improve waste diversion, naturally aligns with our model as we expand our capabilities to serve customers," said Shaw in a statement, noting it can also be used to communicate regulatory changes.
As RTS expands into more cities, all with evolving legislative priorities, the need to help customers keep up is increasing. The company's commercial accounts range from retail locations to office buildings and stadiums, all with their own unique compliance challenges. In addition to that core business, universities and municipalities are seen as a growing focus. RTS recently won its first municipal account in La Porte, Indiana, one that was previously serviced by Waste Management.
Offering this additional gamification and communication tool is seen as a way for RTS to differentiate itself in future municipal bids, and Recyclebank's history shows those concepts can have appeal.
Founded in 2006 by Patrick FitzGerald and Ron Gonen (now CEO of Closed Loop Partners), Recyclebank received multiple rounds of significant venture capital investment in its initial golden years. The company also signed notable investment and partnership deals with the likes of Waste Management, Republic Services, Waste Connections, Casella Waste Systems and others.
Over time, that initial promise of how technology could reshape recycling behavior began to wane, and new financing became harder to attract. The concept also lost luster following what some municipal customers viewed as mixed results for the cost. Moreover, the decline in commodity markets that began in 2017 took a toll, as local governments grappled with new budgetary challenges for their recycling programs.
RTS believes the core concept is still valuable, and Lettieri pledged to overhaul "the entire strategy and execution of the company." This will likely entail a "refresh" for the Recyclebank program, both in terms of the rewards themselves and the actions being rewarded. For example, there could be ways to recognize participation in local clean-up events (similar to what Philadelphia's program entailed) or incentivize reusable containers at certain locations.
"[We want to] use the platform as it is today to really change and enhance the way people view sustainability and how they can interact with decision makers or haulers or companies like us to do a better job," said Lettieri.