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Ron Gonen, 33
Co-founder and CEO, RecycleBank (RecycleBank.com), based in New York City and operating in 15 states

How He Started: I was getting my MBA and wanted a way to combine my professional experience with my strong interest in social policy and the environment. I wanted to do something I could make an impact with today. Everyone, whether in a city or a suburb, whether rich or poor, can recycle.

How It Works: As part of our contract with cities, we give every home a RecycleBank container with a chip embedded in it. When a recycling truck picks up your container, the weight is electronically recorded and translates into RecycleBank points. You can use the points—worth up to $400 a year—at retailers such as Target.com and Whole Foods, or for Coca-Cola and other products.

Who Pays: The program actually saves money. In Wilmington, Delaware, for example, RecycleBank has diverted 33 percent of the city's waste into recycling, saving it $1.5 million a year. RecycleBank gets a portion of the city's savings, and citizens get paid to recycle.

Most Bizarre Moment: I used to joke that I was the only Columbia Business School grad who, a year out of school, delivered recycling containers and picked through garbage for bottles.

Just One Thing You Can Do: Recycle. It costs your municipality a lot to take trash to a landfill—and your taxes are increased to pay for waste disposal.



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