It’s summer, and you are sitting outside on the Great Lawn of Central Park, listening to a concert in New York City. You are surrounded by friends, you are enjoying a delicious picnic, and the music is great. The only way to improve this event would be to devise a smarter way for you and the thousands of other people at the concert to dispose of the plastic cups they are using to drink beer, soda, and water.
Enter Emery Goossens and Evan Eichorn, two New York Univeristy college students.
Concerned about the amount of plastic waste generated by outdoor concerts, they were looking for a way to offer more opportunities for concert-goers to recycle. Unlike plastic bottles and soda cans, however, plastic cups traditionally have little or no value, and so recycling services do not offer to recycle them. Emery and Evan needed to find another way to generate revenue to pay for the recycling of plastic cups, and they co-opted a traditional corporate path to make money: sell advertising space. Based on this idea, they founded a business that combines recycling, advertising, and charitable giving. Wecycle sets up recycling facilities at outdoor concerts in New York City, and generates revenue by selling ad space on its recycling bins. This revenue helps run Wecycle and pays for waste haulers to remove the plastic cups and take them to recycling facilities. The co-founders also donate a percentage of their profits to a local food bank.
Wecycle set up its recycling bins for the first time last Sunday, at a Summer Stage concert in Central Park. Several thousand people attended the concert, and many welcomed the opportunity to recycle their plastic cups. “It went pretty well,” said Emery Goossens. “The crowd was very receptive,” he added.
Emery and Evan are piloting their recycling plan at several other outdoor concerts in New York City this summer. They hope to expand to more major cities by next summer. So if you live in New York or in another large US city, look around for a friendly recycling bin. Toss your plastic cup into the bin, and Evan, Emery and their colleagues at Wecycle will do the rest.
Photo courtesy of Emery Goossens.