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Marveling at Madison Food Scrap Program Participants

It’s amazing how asking the simple question “WHY?” can lead to such a positive impact. ERbin began from that very question: WHY? Why is it so difficult to know what to recycle in my local community?

Fourteen months and a lot of learning and progress later, we’re bringing a solution to the table.

It doesn’t have to be hard to know what to toss in your recycle bin or compost cart. When residents have instant access to the right answers, making the right decision is easy.

We’re proving this method as Madison residents use the ERbin app during this summer’s Madison Food Scrap Trial Program taking place during August and September. Community composting programs often fail because just like with recycling, residents put the wrong items in the cart. The business receiving the materials often can’t have that kind of contamination in their compost. The contamination negatively impacts the business’s ability to sell that compost to an end-user.

On Friday, August 2, City of Madison Streets Division drivers picked up the carts from the 125 trial program participants for the first time. The outcomes were fantastic. Gunderson Health System’s Middleton dairy digestor staff were extremely happy with the materials they received. Only three tags left on carts to remind residents about acceptable items.

The Week 2 pick-up took place Friday, August 9. NO cart tags were left behind; a perfect pick-up!

Nearly half of the participants have downloaded the app, and others are participating in our Facebook group or are receiving the program’s weekly emails. We can’t wait for other communities to ask “WHY?” And see how the ERbin app can have a positive impact on decreasing contamination in their composting and recycling programs.

ERbin teams up with City of Madison Food Scrap Program

ERbin-Madison App Screenshot

Fun news! The City of Madison (WI) will begin their Summer 2019 Food Scrap Trial Program on August 2nd – and guess who will be the communication platform for all things acceptable/unacceptable in the food scrap carts? ERbin!

That’s right, the 600-or-so voluntary program participants will be able to download the ERbin app for instant access to a searchable database of items acceptable and unacceptable in their food scrap carts. There is also a tab within the app that gives trial participants instant access to how to properly dispose of many questionable household items.

With the ERbin app, Madison residents will never have to save paper lists, or go online to find items acceptable/unacceptable in their food scrap carts. And this is really important for this particular food scrap program.

Madison Food Scrap Program items are being taken to a digestor – NOT an outdoor compost facility. The list of acceptable items is highly custom and specific only to this particular food scrap program. In fact, we are staying away from using the term ‘compost’ altogether, because there are actually many technically compostable items not acceptable in the program.

We are so excited to be working with Madison on this exciting food scrap program trial! Madison has tried so hard to figure out a successful city-wide food waste diversion initiative, and we think the ERbin app as a resident communication platform is really going to ensure only the RIGHT items are going into food scrap carts. Together, we are going to make sure Madison gets a long-term food waste diversion program.

Raising money; raising a startup

ERbin recycling app

About 10 weeks ago, we challenged our Weston, WI ERbin app beta testers to scan as many products as possible before June 6 – the last day of school for the DC Everest School District. The purpose of the scan challenge was to (1) motivate testers to continue using the app (so we can make it better), (2) educate about what’s actually acceptable in Weston recycling bins, and (3) raise money for Recycling Connections so that they could do some recycling infrastructure analysis and education for staff and students and Weston Elementary School.

Awesome news! Our testers scanned 716 products during that time period. That means we get to donate $358 to Recycling Connections!

We are so grateful to have an amazing org like Recycling Connections right here in central WI! And we’re thrilled that staff at Weston Elementary gladly jumped into the opportunity to do more good for their school, students, and the earth!

What’s next for ERbin? We are spending the summer loading thousands of products into our app’s database, among many other exciting developments! The more products we have in our database, the closer we become to bringing the app to residents across the county so we can ALL recycle right.

The war on contamination in the residential recycling stream doesn’t stand a chance.

Stay tuned to our startup journey here, or on Facebook or Instagram.

With gratitude,

ERbin CEO & Co-founder

Week 3 Scan Challenge

Week 3 Scan Challenge Products!

It’s Week 3 of the Weston Scan Challenge. All you need to do is download the ERbin app and scan at least five of the products listed below to find out what is acceptable in your Weston recycling bin. And just for added inspiration, we’ll send you a $5 grocery gift card when you create an account in ERbin (just need a name and email) AND scan those five products. Scan at the store OR at home – doesn’t matter. We KNOW you’ve always wondered if that plastic egg carton is acceptable. Now is the time to find out. Happy Scanning! And remember – the ERbin app’s how-to-recycle info is only relevant to Village of Weston (WI) residents who have Advanced Disposal as your recycling hauler. We’ll grow to more communities soon!

Scan Challenge: Week 2

We are almost two months into the beta test of the ERbin recycling app in Weston, WI! Weston residents are amazing. We have about 60 testers who are scanning product UPC codes and text-searching for products and materials to learn what is actually acceptable in Weston recycle bins, at local alternative drop off sites, and what should just go in the trash.

Each time a tester scans one of the following products, ERbin is donating 50 cents to Recycling Connections, a central Wisconsin non-profit that is doing some recycling education and infrastructure analysis at Weston Elementary Schools. It’s a win-win-win-win-win…you get the point!

Here’s the list of Week 2 Scan Challenge products:

1. Kroger peaches, 15 oz

2. Jif creamy peanut butter, 40 oz

3. Welch’s concord grape jam, 30 oz

4. Country Hearth split top wheat bread

5. Cuties, 5lb bag

6. Breyers Natural Vanilla ice cream, 1.5 quart

7. Smuckers Strawberry Jam, 18 oz

SCAN. RECYCLE. IMPACT. That’s the ERbin way!

Just scan the UPC barcode of any product AND BAM, see if it’s acceptable in your recycling bin, at a nearby alternative drop-off site, in your compost bin, or in your trash!

You scan, kids win

Find the recipe, below, and start scanning ingredients

Two months ago, ERbin launched its beta test in the Village of Weston, WI. Today, we have about 60 Weston residents testing out the app. Residents are able to scan the UPC barcode of any product or text search for a product to see what is acceptable in their recycling bins.

To encourage more Weston residents to test out the app, and especially to get kids interested in helping their parents scan items, we started a super cool incentive program. The goal: 1,000 product scans by June 6 (last day of school).

Each time a Weston resident creates an account in the app and scans a product, that scan is worth a monetary unit (50 cents), and we (ERbin) are donating the total amount generated by the scans to Recycling Connections in Stevens Point. Recycling connections is going to use that money to implement some recycling programming at Weston Elementary School—a great public-private-non-profit partnership to benefit everyone involved. We anticipate a total donation of about $500. How cool is that!

For some extra fun, and to educate about packaging we hear A LOT of questions about, we’re including a group of products to find and scan whether at the grocery store or at home. It gets better. The group of products come together to make a delish meal!

This week (May 13) we tested out a new recipe we found on Pinterest. Check out that recipe, or scan five of the following ingredients to win a $5 gift card to a local Weston grocery store!

1. Sam’s Choice Organic Vegetable Broth
2. Simple Truth Roasted Cashews
3. Cauliflower (any brand from the fresh produce aisle)
4. Simple Truth Organic Free Range Chicken Thighs
5. Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk
6. Green Giant Riced Cauliflower Medley
7. Organic Valley Ghee (clarified butter)
8. Archer Farms Ground Ginger (or another brand of ground ginger)
9. Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste
10. Garlic powder (any brand)
11. Market Pantry Curry powder (or any brand)
12 Turmeric (any brand)
13. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Original 15 oz

Quick hint – we spent a lot of time at Pick N Save in Weston finding these ingredients. We made the trek to Downtown Grocery to find the ghee (we’ve never used it before!). Feel free to scan the butter product listed instead of the ghee. The vegetable broth comes from Walmart. Overall, we gave the recipe a 6.5 out of 10. Yummy, but not spectacular