RecycleBank Adds $28M, Joins Up With Kashless

RecycleBank, which partners with cities to provide incentives for residential recycling, has just put another $28.25 million in the bank, according to a filing with the SEC. Separately this morning, the company announced a new partnership with Kashless.org, the re-commerce company founded by former Imperium Renewables CEO and serial entrepreneur Martin Tobias.

In the five years since its founding, Philadelphia-based RecycleBank (a subsidiary of Recycle Rewards, which filed the regulatory form about the equity raise last week) has raised more than $73 million, with investors including RRE Ventures, Sigma Partners, Kleiner Perkins and the Westly Group. The idea is to revitalize municipal recycling by awarding points that residents can redeem for discounts or gift cards at thousands of retailers, or donate to charities and other groups, based on the amount of materials they recycle.

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Today’s deal with Kashless marks the launch of a new program called Kashless Rewards, which will allow Kashless users to earn points when they post items for reuse on the online marketplace (essentially a Craigslist for free stuff, with many more Web 2.0-style features), and redeem them through RecycleBank’s program.

So Kashless, which has also been funded by RRE Ventures, is making use of the deals that RecycleBank has struck with retailers over the years. The companies have not disclosed the financial terms of today’s agreement.

In RecycleBank’s system, a municipality has to sign up for the program, and then pays RecycleBank a portion of of the savings generated by diverting waste from landfills. Residential customers get a special bin with a built-in RFID tag. The recycling trucks can then identify each container, weigh the contents and credit the household.

While Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr has said he sees the startup as an example of how applying the right business model to existing technology can be good business for the planet, the fact that RecycleBank’s program creates a disincentive for conservation — the more plastic water bottles you use, for example, the more points you get — has always struck me as an environmental pitfall. But the startup has said it’s working to fix that. Back in February, the company told us that it planned to start offering rewards based on recycling as a percentage of the total waste stream. The partnership with Kashless, by promoting reuse, represents another step in a greener direction.

Graphic courtesy of RecycleBank

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