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Recycle with TerraCylce

Reduce waste Reuse waste Recycle waste

Waste is definitely a major problem in today’s society.

And not only is it production of waste but its removal is a major issue as waste in some cases helps to contribute to the spread of diseases and other harmful effects to the environment and consequently those that live in it.

As such, many hats off to those heroes who spend hours finding solutions to this global waste crisis.

Today we will be taking a look at one of those heroes.

More specifically, we will be going over an interview that we had the privilege of doing with TerraCycle, a company that helps to develop solutions to the global waste crisis.

But before we look at the interview, let’s get a brief overview of TerraCycle.

TerraCycle is a global company that helps to develop innovative ways to recycle and then reuse waste. It is headquartered in Trenton, New Jersey but has impacted twenty-one countries. TerraCycle started out by recycling ‘worm poop’ and is now arguably one of the world’s largest recycling companies. Their mission is ‘ Eliminating the idea of waste’. Following this principle, Teracycle works to help minimize waste. Honorable mentions of work they have done include the Tokyo Olympics podiums( that they built using trash from Japanese consumers) and the launch of TerraCycle Global Foundation (which aims to remove plastic from rivers and canals before they get to the oceans). Hence, TerraCycle helps to promote sustainability as recycling ensures that fewer raw materials will have to be used. As opposed to a linear economy, TerraCycle wishes to see the world become a circular economy where minimal waste is produced and discarded products are recycled.

Now that our appetites have been wet, let’s read the following interview to learn more from TerraCycle.

How did you start?

TerraCycle began as the dream of Tom Szaky, freshman turned social business pioneer. The business grew from humble beginnings after it was incorporated in 2003 as the manufacturer of a simple organic fertilizer. The process involved feeding leftovers from the Princeton University cafeteria to an army of worms and liquefying the resulting compost into a completely organic fertilizer. TerraCycle’s initial product was then packaged in used soda bottles collected from recycling bins. This resulted in the world’s first product made from AND packaged entirely in waste. While TerraCycle no longer makes the fertilizer that established its reputation, it is now an international leader in recycling the unrecyclable. The shift came when Tom realized he could make a bigger impact in the world by using product and packaging waste deemed to have no value to create new raw materials that are sold to manufacturers to produce the aforementioned new products.

What is your mission?

TerraCycle is an innovative waste management company that operates in 21 countries with a mission to Eliminate the idea of Waste®. It is a global leader that partners with businesses, communities and individuals to move from a linear economy to a circular one.

We create new solutions for waste through three major business units each focusing on a different stage in moving from a linear to circular economy: recycling, recycled content and reuse. Through this approach we have created first-of-its-kind recycling programs for hard-to-recycle materials, enabled leaked materials (from river to beach plastic) to be made back into products and packages, launched a global platform for reuse through Loop, and to address the complex challenges of waste in emerging , launched the non-profit TerraCycle Global Foundation.

How have you changed the industry (the one you’re in)?

TerraCycle is in the business of recycling the types of waste that are not recyclable through conventional methods, like your municipalities’ curbside blue bin recycling program. Recycling products that may not normally be accepted curbside is a step in the right direction for protecting ecosystems globally. Human beings are unfortunately huge producers of waste. For example, annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute. Many of these plastic bags will end up in landfills or littered in natural habitats and ecosystems.

TerraCycle’s recycling models outperform municipal waste management options by an average of 45 percent across eight key impact categories, including global warming potential, human carcinogenic toxicity, and fossil resource scarcity, primarily by avoiding the extraction of virgin material for new product development.

Another important solution is reuse. The circular economy model moves away from the one-way “take-make waste” economy we are used to and instead focuses on how we can make the system regenerative by getting things to be recycled, to be made from recycled materials, and even better, to be reusable. We know that the biggest obstacle to shifting toward a circular economy is human nature itself. As individual consumers, we’re trained to value convenience and affordability. This is why we created Loop - to tackle the issue of disposability and single-use in a way that is still accessible and convenient for the consumer.

What would you tell a company that had just started its sustainable journey?

Consumers on a global level are demanding more sustainable products and government entities are working to establish more stringent sustainability laws and carbon emissions regulations. From a business’ standpoint, it is important to listen to the consumer as their opinions reflect the needs of the general public. By listening to informed consumers, and investing in other companies that align with our sustainability goals, we can help to push industries to embrace the circular economy and the benefits it affords.

And that marks the end of our interview with Terracycle.

There you have it!

If you would like to play your part in TerraCycle's mission, or learn more about their cause

visit their website

To learn more about a circular economy click here to read our blog ‘Green Economics’.


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