CINCINNATI - If you're a Cincinnati resident and recycle some of your garbage, don't expect to get any gift certificates or coupons for your efforts – at least not for awhile.
The city of Cincinnati quietly ended its affiliation with the Recyclebank program on April 30.
Local officials only issued a press release about it Thursday, a day after WCPO Digital submitted several questions about the termination.
"After evaluating program participation and weighing program costs, the city of Cincinnati and Recyclebank have decided to end the current rewards program for Cincinnati residents effective April 30," the city's May 2 release stated.
"The city will unveil a new incentive program in the coming months," it added.
No details were given about the new program, or an expected launch date.
Recyclebank had earlier confirmed for WCPO Digital that the program had ended.
"We have enjoyed working with the city of Cincinnati, Rumpke Recycling and Cascade Engineering, and are proud of the work we have accomplished in encouraging increased recycling through rewards, as well as the dedicated efforts made by Cincinnati residents to take everyday green actions," said Elissa Davis, a Recyclebank spokeswoman, on May 1.
City residents can still recycle eligible garbage , but they won't be rewarded for doing so until a new program is implemented.
Some of the deals offered by Recyclebank included a buy one, get one free sundae at Graeter's Ice Cream shops, a $5 off coupon for Arthur's Restaurant in Hyde Park and discounts at LaRosa's Pizzerias.
The city paid a fee to Recyclebank to participate in its program.
The program's cancellation comes at a time when city officials are grappling with how to avoid a $35 million deficit by July 1.
One option being considered is laying off 344 municipal workers, including 269 positions on the Police and Fire departments.
Other changes to garbage collection also are coming, which city officials said are designed to save money and increase safety for trash workers.
Starting in October, the city will only pick up trash for residences with one to four units. Larger apartment complexes and businesses will have to contract with private companies for trash collection.
Cincinnati residents and small businesses recycled 17,815 tons last year, compared to 12,175 tons in 2008, city officials said.
The recycling effort conserved enough energy to power every home in Cincinnati for six days.
On average, every household in Cincinnati recycled more than 241 pounds last year, amounting to 17.20 percent of all waste the city generated.
But Cincinnati's goal, set by City Council in 2008, was to reach 25 percent by this year, and 30 percent by 2015.
"Although the Recyclebank program worked for some residents, overall Recyclebank participation rates were disappointing," the city's press release stated.
"The program is being revamped in order to realize the city's original intent of the program: To encourage and reward citizens who recycle, which in turns saves money and taxpayer dollars on tipping fees by diverting tonnage from the landfill," it added.
Meg Olberding, a city spokeswoman, explained why the program's cancellation wasn't announced publicly until after it happened.
"Some city departments were working on the press release and trying to get a few details nailed down," Olberding said.
Recyclebank considers the Cincinnati program a success.
"Since the city went from bins to larger carts and added incentives from Recyclebank in October 2010, more than 75 million pounds have been recycled — that is a 39 percent lift over baseline," Davis said.
"In addition, just in the last year, members have earned close to $170,000 in reward value, driving more than $200,000 into the local economy by redeeming Recyclebank rewards," she added.
Founded in 2004, Recyclebank helps promote conservation by rewarding people for taking environmentally friendly actions with discounts and deals from more than 3,000 local and national businesses.
Through its online platform and partnerships with municipalities, haulers and corporate brands, the New York-based company has been recognized for "outstanding excellence in public/private partnerships" from the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.