Tom Szaky – TerraCycle

Growing up in school we are taught about the effects of global warming, that it’s up to us to create a better world for the future generation. There are many schemes and systems in place, every office, university and home must sort out our rubbish into paper, plastic, metal etc. And in some cases even run the risk of being finned!

But what about the obscure items which you wouldn’t think to recycle? A cigarette bud perhaps, coffee capsules and even plastic gloves. TerraCycle does exactly this. Founded by Tom Szaky specialises in recycling the obscure, the non-recyclable, post-consumer and post-industrial waste. But how? There are many innovative solutions provided by TerraCycle such as closed loop solutions, composting, reuse and at the forefront upcycling.

Currently active in 24 countries, TerraCycle began with founder Tom Szaky leaving Princeton before graduation with investors to sell “worm poop” as a fertilizer. The company success later exploded after changing the business model and focusing on collecting waste to create a final product. The real genius is the free collection methods including brand-funded and government funded models. By partnering with consumer product companies (P&G, Uniliever etc.), retailers, factories and businesses collection becomes free.

After the collection is where the most exciting stuff happens with amazing products being created from Capri Sun tote bags, recycled marker pens, pencil cases and Frisbees made from the waste. My personal favourite from the genius R&D department is a chewing gum recycling program turning chewing gum into plastic!

But on a more serious note the environmental impact is astounding. TerraCycle will not use any linear solutions (e.g. incineration) but have an emphasis on combating the global garbage crisis through the philosophy of garbage not existing in a natural system.

Currently there are several books and TV shows which delve deep into TerraCycle, recycling and waste management. The success and recognition received is enormous with hundreds of awards from the U.N, Forbes and the EPA.

We look forward to hearing from Tom Szaky to discuss the entrepreneurial struggle of a recycling business and the future of TerraCycle.