by Lisa Bonanate
One of the challenges facing recycling efforts is that only certain waste can be recycled while the rest is thrown away, generating massive amounts of garbage in landfills. Figuring out what can be recycled and where to dispose of it may cause well-intentioned consumers and businesses to throw their hands up in despair. But an innovative company called TerraCycle is out to change that.
Specializing in recycling the unrecyclable, the Trenton-based company collects and repurposes the type of hard to recycle, post-consumer waste that typically winds up in landfills – cigarette butts, coffee capsules, food wrappers, light bulbs – you name it. Collected waste is then reused, upcycled or recycled into sustainable consumer products and industrial applications.
CEO Tom Szaky founded TerraCycle in 2001 as a student at Princeton University, driving tremendous growth through the years. Working with individuals as well as municipalities, manufacturers and corporations across 21 countries, the company has recycled 3,800,000,000 units of waste to date, and through its programs, has contributed millions of dollars to schools and non-profits.
TerraCycle offers a number of recycling options, from free programs funded by companies, to solutions that can be purchased – like the Zero Waste Box. This program allows recyclers to choose from over 100 affordable single waste stream options. A manufacturing facility might opt for a single solution box to collect and recycle disposal plastic gloves. A corporation might choose to focus only on collecting coffee capsules or go for an all-encompassing solution like the All-In-One Zero Waste Box. This option accepts a wide range of waste with the exception of food or hazardous materials. The process is simple – choose a waste stream to recycle, purchase one of several box sizes, collect the waste and send it to TerraCycle. Shipping is included in the purchase price.
Even small companies will find the Zero Waste Boxes affordable. New York-based production company Lotus Pictures uses the All-In-One Zero Waste Box to offer its employees an easy way to recycle just about anything.
“Lotus Pictures wants to reduce our footprint and adopt environmentally friendly measures wherever possible,” explained D. Michael Aspite, partner and executive producer at Lotus Pictures. “Right now, we’re a small company, but we believe small steps can make a significant impact.”
Aspite added that employees were pleased to learn they could easily and conveniently recycle items that have traditionally been considered non-recyclable waste. “To be able to recycle without even worrying about separation has made us all avoid using the regular trash bins whenever we can.”
Through working with companies like Lotus Pictures, TerraCycle is helping to create a zero waste world. “We hope that other businesses like ours continue to take advantage of the innovative recycling solutions offered by TerraCycle,” says Aspite. “Together we can make a real difference.”