Viewpoints

Grocers Offer Retailer-Specific Recycling Rewards

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I have a dinosaur of a computer taking up much of the limited closet space in my apartment. Although it's only about five years old, it doesn't have a flat screen so none of the various charities I tried pawning it off on are willing to take it. Given its weight it's probably not worth the price of postage, but finding that out from charity websites that seemed just as antiquated was as laborious as lugging the thing to its final resting place in my closet. I've replaced it with a sleek laptop, but I'm still not willing to throw it away. Now retailers like Harris Teeter are explaining why I shouldn't: Some electronics contain mercury, lead and cadmium, which can make their way from landfills to soil and water.

Plus, if you throw it away you'd miss the opportunity to turn your unwanted gadget into free groceries. It's all part of a clever partnership between Harris Teeter and recycling facilitator MyBoneYard, which helped it create an easy-to-use website that lets you know, after only about 30 seconds worth of questions, how much your old cell phone, laptop or TV is worth (unfortunately my computer doesn't qualify). The program is different from Target's recycling initiative in that bins don't take up store space so overhead seems minimal. Instead of having to travel to the store for drop-off, a postage-paid envelope is sent to your home so you don't even have to get in your car. No worries for Harris Teeter, since you'll visit the store with your gift card later.

A working iPhone earns you $130 to spend there, or you can donate the money to the school of your choice through Together In Education.

Aside from the cause-marketing halo that comes from aligning with the environment and funding for schools, distributing rewards in the form of gift cards is advantageous — especially at a time when 55% of consumers visit 10 or more retailers per month to fulfill their CPG needs. Gift cards earned this way are essentially free money, so shoppers will likely spend with abandon. Sure, consumers can get cold hard cash or at least a tax write-off by recycling/donating electronics via other means. If you bypass harristeeter.com, for instance, and visit MyBoneYard's website directly, you'll get a $144 Visa prepaid card for the same phone. But since it doesn't occur to most consumers to recycle electronics, Harris Teeter will likely be the one rewarded for letting them know.

Other retailers will also soon offer rewards for recycling through their involvement with PepsiCo's Dream Machine recycling initiative. As part of the program, computerized receptacles will be placed in 150 Rite Aid locations, as well as supermarkets where bottles aren't generally recycled, gas stations, parks and city streets. The kiosks are provided by GreenOps, a subsidiary of Waste Management and operated by Greenopolis — a system that rewards shoppers for recycling.

In addition to earning Greenopolis discounts on restaurants and other venues, consumers will have the opportunity to earn supermarket coupons through the machine. What better way to encourage a consumer to replace the bottle of water they just drank?

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Contributors

David Orgel

David Orgel is executive director, content & user engagement, of Supermarket News (SN) and its website, SupermarketNews.com. Orgel delivers his opinions on industry trends through a bi-weekly...

Carol Angrisani

Carol Angrisani is an associate editor at Supermarket News. Along with covering the packaged goods beat, she also manages SN’s annual private-label and ethnic marketing supplements. Carol...
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