GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Grand Rapids is earning a reputation of being a leader in recycling efforts.
One of the secrets to the city's success is www.mygrcitypoints.com - a recycle incentive program started that gaining national recognition.
"Recycling has jumped 80% since the program was introduced which is tremendous. It is one of the most innovative programs in the country. We have other people calling us all the time asking 'how are you doing this?' How are you getting so many people in the community to participate?'" said Seth Galligan, communications coordinator for Local First. "It has been a massive success as far as we are concerned."
Galligan says the concept is simple, give people an incentive for getting involved in recycling. Local First facilitates the program for the city of Grand Rapids. Local First gets its members to offer deals on the mygrcitypoints.com website for users to take advantage of.
"We have 200 Local First members signed up. You have to be a Local First member to offer deals which is great because you know anything you get is going to be local and part of helping the local economy," said Galligan.
It has also been great for the environment and the people who use it. Users simply sit out their recycle carts every 2 weeks and earn points. Those who don't live in the city can earn points by volunteering at approved non-profit events.
"The deals are all over the map. Some really cool stuff," said Galligan. Just today we have 40 active deals and they start at 50 points which is less than one recycling dump. Every single time you put your cart out you are going to get points. They can rack up. I have seen people with huge totals."
The Rapid is one offers a 10-ride bus pass, normally valued at $11.50 for 1,000 points. Spokesperson, Jennifer Kalczuk says it is one of the more popular rewards offered in the program.
"It has been great we average just over 50 certificates redeemed every month. Since we joined the program we have over 1,200 tickets that have been redeemed," she said.
Kalczuk believes it is a natural fit for the transportation company to be involved with the program.
"I think there is an overlap between people who are interested in recycling and people who want to use transit. So, those things work together very well," she said. "But we have also found that some people have taken their 10 ride cards and donated them to a local non-profit or to a church. That is also a way to further that community benefit. When people recycle, when they volunteer, when they do the things that can earn them points that benefits the whole community. We are very interested in supporting that."
Galligan says that community involvement is the key essential to the program working.
"The earning points draws you in and that is all part of sustainability. The people who are involved in the community are the people who care about the community and that is the main goal if this program," he said.
To date users have redeemed 8,000 rewards. The mygrcitypoints.com website has a complete list of active deals. They vary day to day and currently include a $45 bicycle tune up normally priced $80 at Central District Cyclery and $10 off any order of $50 or more at Eastern Floral.
If you are interested in more ways to recycle, our partner Grand Rapids Family Magazine has a big article this month devoted to different ways you can do it in West Michigan.