The Global Leader in Unrecyclable Goods

TerraCycle

9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 15. Life on Land

Overview

TerraCycle is an innovative recycling company that is known for their unique mission and scientific dedication. They are a global leader in recycling what they call “unrecyclable” goods. These goods consist of items and waste that recycling companies simply don't work with. These items tend to be either too expensive, or too difficult to find a way to repurpose; which is why there is a giant gap in the recycling industry. They offer programs funded by brands, manufacturers and retailers around the world to help them collect the waste. Their platform changes how we view waste from a linear system, to a circular one. Because of this, their company was able to shift the global perception on recycling in general.

Authors

Mirecia Blackwood

Mirecia Blackwood

Marlene Arias

Marlene Arias

Deena Aglio

Deena Aglio

Dina Bruno

Dina Bruno

School

St. John's University

St. John's University

Professor

Charles Wankel

Charles Wankel

Innovation

TerraCycle specializes in reusing, upcycling, and recycling waste instead of incinerating or landfilling it like their competitors. They are the only company who recycles goods that are difficult to break down, and work with waste streams. This is what makes TerraCycle's platform so unique. TerraCycle has since become a world leader in the collection and re-purposing of complex waste streams. They have over 80 million people in 21 countries that contribute to the collection and efforts of recycling waste. Collected waste is turned into raw materials that are sold to manufacturers to produce new products. The company offers many programs such as: the Zero Waste Box™ platform, municipal programs, industrial waste solutions, regulated waste recycling, and event services.

TerraCycle's innovation has a sense of mission, purpose, and meaning. Their business models, along with employees, are all dedicated to benefitting the environment, and repurposing. They have the best team of business professionals and scientists who do not give up until they find the proper means of repurposing. On the company website, it states “Clients present us with challenges. We develop profitable and scalable solutions." When asked what was the most difficult “unrecyclable waste” their team deals with, Zack informed us that the biggest problem his team faces is money. Some products are more expensive than others to recycle; yet nothing is considered to be unrecyclable in their eyes. As Zack stated, their employees “live what they preach”. They have waste bins around the office and a sustainability committee to manage the organization's efforts on being green.

The Global Leader in Unrecyclable Goods

Inspiration

The company started in 2001 by a man named Tom Szaky who was determined to eliminate the idea of waste. He started with his efforts by beginning the company as a student at Princeton University; however, it started off as a fertilization company. From this, he eliminated the idea of waste by making quality fertilizers from food waste. Soon after, Tom knew that he could do more to make a greater impact. He began to focus his efforts on recycling goods that the other recycling companies didn’t. Szaky soon expanded his business and now focuses on collecting trash and turning it into treasure.

Overall impact

TerraCycle’s overall impact aids in the reduction of waste. This company has the ability to provide our world with highly beneficial and unique ways to contribute the solving of our many environmental issues. Instead of simply throwing your recyclables in a recycling bin, you can learn how to reuse certain products and even create new things you would never imagine. TerraCycle serves as a company that satisfies the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals due to the production of efficient products that better help our world. TerraCycle has successfully partnered with companies like Proctor & Gamble. They made the world's first shampoo bottle made from beach plastic for the company's Head & Shoulders brand. This innovation has a great long-term effect because they can bring manufacturing into a more environmentally conscious industry. When interviewing Zack, he stated that in the future the company sees more big corporations moving into this direction. This can be proven true with the Proctor & Gamble partnership. After the release of the shampoo bottles, TerraCycle received a ton of press coverage, which caused other major brands initiating partnerships.

Business benefit

TerraCycle has created a new profitable market and service. They were able to see the gap amongst the recycling industry and completely change what we thought could be recycled. They have partnerships with major brands such as Head & Shoulders, Frito Lay, and Nespresso. They help them find ways to make their product containers recyclable. With their innovation, they are able to make money while benefiting the environment.

TerraCycle's revenue in 2016 was $19.3 million and was expected to make $22 million in 2017. In January of 2018, TerraCycle became a publicly traded company. They currently donated about $21,554,508 to charities. TerraCycle conducts their operations in twenty-one countries and has offices in Canada, Brazil, London, Mexico, Japan, Australia, China, and South Korea.

They currently have 250 employees who are passionate about their work. From interviewing Zack, we were able to see first hand how much their employees care about TerraCycle's mission. Upon doing research about what it is like to work there, we found that their employee reviews are all positive. These are some of the things their employees/former employees are saying about TerraCycle:

"Unique office space and pet-friendly office make for a comfortable, productive environment. Management is genuinely interested in seeing their employees succeed. Growing company in a high-growth sector. Great place to work."- Anonymous

"It was a very good place to work at. It was very nice to see trash be recycled into someone else's treasures."- Anonymous

"TerraCycle is an active company with many clients. The environment is very fast paced and the internships are very educational for a college student." - Anonymous

Social and environmental benefit

TerraCycle is undeniably a leader in the recycling industry. They provide a variety of recycling platforms that help find a solution for almost all of your waste. Many of their programs are completely free. By sending your waste to TerraCycle, you will avoid it ending up as litter, in a landfill or incineration facility. Instead, new materials and products will be made with your collected waste, reducing the need to extract new materials from the planet. TerraCycle currently has people 80,617,000 recycling, and has recycled 4,104,054,370 items to date. This number will continue to grow with the expanded outreach that they will gain from their partnerships. When asked how TerraCycle promotes their benefits to society and the environment, Zack explained that they have their partnering companies post about them on their social media platforms. With their partnering companies huge social media presence, it allows TerraCycle's mission to be heard by millions. This along with the CEO's educational seminars is what gets TerraCycle's influence across the globe.

Interview

Zachary Fayer, Business Development Associate

Keep this story going! Share below!

TerraCycle

TerraCycle

Trenton , NJ, US

Business Website: https://www.terracycle.com/en-US/

Year Founded: 2001

Number of Employees: 51 to 200

TerraCycle's solution to recycling "unrecyclable" goods came from the realization that most items can be re-purposed, even when its seems doubtful. They believe with their team of scientists and dedicated workers, they will always find a way to reuse and reduce waste. This has caught the eye of many people, and major companies, who are taking the initiative to be environmentally friendly and sustainable.