Recycling Survey: Competition, Rewards Could Motivate Recyclers

Students at MIT are currently taking part in a little recycling experiment. A company called Greenbean Recycle has set up a system on the campus that will allow students to track their recycling progress and offer incentives to the ones who recycle the most. By turning the campus’s large recycling center into a point tabulator, the company has turned recycling into a fun competition rather than a chore. Is this something that could be translated to the rest of the country?



In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, 50.8% of respondents said they regularly recycle. 33.5% said they do sometimes, 8.8% said they rarely recycle, and 7% said they never do.

Of those who do not recycle, 38.1% said the reason they don’t is because it’s inconvenient, 33.3% said they just haven’t thought about it, 19% said it’s because they don’t have any incentive, and 7.9% said they just don’t care about it.


While some states offer a five or ten cent return on certain recyclables like plastic bottles and aluminum cans, there aren’t many other incentives for people to recycle. 66.8% of respondents said they would definitely recycle more often if there was an incentive offered. 25.8% said they might recycle more with an incentive, and only 7.5% said they would not.


Competition is another way to motivate people in some ways. 38% of respondents said they are definitely motivated by competition, and 41.8% said they sometimes are. If this competition was translated into a recycling program, 32% said they would definitely participate, 23.8% said they probably would, 7.5% said they probably wouldn’t, and only 4.3% said they definitely wouldn’t. Another 32.5% said that it would depend on what incentive was offered to the winners.

Recycling programs like the one started at MIT could greatly help the environment by helping people have fun and feel involved. Competition and incentives are great motivators, so using them in conjunction with a recycling program just might work outside of a college campus.

Photo Credit: Recycling from Flickr

Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.