Image via ecycler screengrab
In college I scored quite a bit of extra pocket change by collecting bottles and cans found on my way to and from classes and my apartment, and submitting them for recycling. I usually earned enough each month to buy about a week's worth of groceries (admittedly, college kid groceries, which means pasta, cheap bread, and not the most organic of veggies...). e-Cycler could have come in handy back then; it is a new website that makes the process of collecting - and having collected - recyclables look much more like a part time job than a random act of frugal greenness. It connects people who have recyclables but no recycling service with people who want to collect recyclables for profit. Not everyone has curbside recycling services in their area, which means they either need to take their recyclables into collection centers themselves...or, they can take advantage of a new company called e-Cycler.
Both Collectors and Discarders Can Make Money
Two types of people sign up with e-Cycler - those who want to collect recyclables in order to turn a profit, and those who want someone to come pick up their recyclables (and possibly also make a profit). The website connects the two people, and collectors can make either 100% profit from what they collect and take in to centers in exchange for cash, or they can make a 60% profit, giving 40% to the person from whom they collected the recyclables. It's up to the person setting their recyclables out whether or not they want to simply give them away, or gain some extra pocket change themselves.
And e-Cycler Wants Money Too
e-Cycler is still a start-up and wants to turn their own profit, so they are initializing a small fee on the collector for each lead they receive from the site on who they can go collect from. Even if you as a collector are paying a fee to e-Cycler and giving 40% to the discarder, if you're hard up for some extra income and/or have a passion for seeing recyclables actually get recycled, the cut in profit may still be made up for in the saved time of going straight for a batch of recyclables rather than randomly scouring gutters and trash bins during daily walks.
What's the Impact of All These Collectors?
While this is a great system to help get recyclables to recycling facilities in areas where there isn't curbside pickup provided by the city, we are still curious about the impact of having people most likely driving around in cars and pickup trucks collecting the recyclables and driving to centers to turn them in. Maybe there could be an option for reduced fees for collectors who use bicycles with carts rather than cars. No matter what, e-Cycler seems like a better option than having no curbside recycling at all, and likely a smaller impact than city garbage trucks grumbling down the roads.
One Last Suggestion...
One other element of e-Cycler we aren't thrilled with is their suggestions for collectors who want to advertise their services. e-Cycler provides PDFs of posters with a collector's unique ID number, which collectors can print out and hang in coffee shops and other local areas. While the idea is practical, and having a pre-created poster is handy, If you do this, pretty please use scrap paper and print in fast-draft mode (and pretty please, e-Cycler, add this tip to your suggestion blurb for advertising).
More on Recycling and Income
4 Ways to Earn Cash From Recycling
Recycle Your Cell Phone for Fun, Profit
Recycling Threatened by Recession--What You Can Do to Help
How to Start a Citywide Recycling Program All By Yourself