TerraCycle. Outsmart waste.

November 29, 2011 in Recycling

TerraCycle, based in Trenton, NJ, is a for-profit company that upcycles and recycles traditionally non-recyclable waste – into creative consumer products.

Even in a city like Cambridge that has a very progressive recycling program (yay for recycling coffee cups and pizza boxes!), there are so many products that are not recycled – and that could be diverted from landfills with TerraCycle’s programs.  Like candy wrappers, chip bags, corks, cookie packaging, and the list goes on….

What Preserve does for No.5 plastics, TerraCycle does for a wide variety of products, and moreover, YOU can start a collection site.

Here’s how it works:

1) TerraCycle identifies waste streams (ex. drink pouches), and offers a “Brigade Program” for each waste stream (thus, the Drink Pouch Brigade®).

2) Anyone (you, me, a school, business, …) can sign up to join a brigade and TerraCycle will send you a collection box.  Once the box is full, you can download a shipping label and send it back to TerraCycle.  So no cost for you.  And on top of that, many of the brigades (like the Drink Pouch Brigade) will award you points or money per products collected, to be attributed to charitable gifts or the non-profit or school of your choice.

3) TerraCycle has a group of scientists and designers who figure out how to upcycle and recycle the waste into exciting new products.  Like a Capri Sun Drink Pouch Tote Bag:

Check out this video to have a better understanding of what happens during the TerraCycle process for drink pouches.  And there are still brigade spots available in the Drink Pouch Brigade, so sign up now!  Especially if you drink a lot of Capri Sun…

4) The upcycled and recycled products are then sold online or at a wide range of retailers including Wal*Mart and Target.  The official online retailer for TerraCycle is DwellSmart, a company selling products that minimize the impact on the environment.  Great place to look for Christmas gifts…

Awesome business model: Involve communities.  Make people aware.  Divert trash from landfills.  Turn waste into art.  And make money.

They also have possibly the coolest decorated office space I’ve ever seen.

The tables are old doors propped on kids’ desks

And yes, I found TerraCycle on The Blue Economy site I wrote about yesterday.