TerraCycle’s business model is to eliminate waste by offering free recycling fundraisers to any school, non-profit, corporation or individual/family for any type of man-made waste. The program incentivizes the collection of common packaging and products ranging from candy wrappers to cosmetics, packaging to cigarette butts.
“Brigades” collect waste that TerraCycle then turns into more than 1500 new products, ranging from recycled park benches to upcycled backpacks. These products are available online and at major retailers ranging from Walmart to Whole Foods. There are currently more than 40 programs that range from food packaging (like drink pouches and candy wrappers) to office supplies (like pens and tape dispensers) to personal products (like cosmetic and beauty packaging to diaper packaging).
For every item returned, TerraCycle donates two-cents (or the local equivalent) to a school or non-profit of the collector’s choice. TerraCycle operates in 22 countries, minimizing the global threats of landfill and incineration on humans and the environment. So far, through TerraCycle, 32 million consumers have diverted 2.5 billion units of waste from landfill and incineration, while earning over 4.5 million dollars (US) for schools and myriad non- profits.
For example, the drink pouch is a ubiquitous waste stream found in every school cafeteria in America. In order to offset the estimated 11 BILLION pouches that go to waste every year in America alone, TerraCycle partnered with Honest Tea and Capri Sun to start the Drink Pouch Brigade. The free recycling fundraiser was an opportunity for two competitors to put aside their corporate differences and do the right thing for the environment. Since the Program was founded, over 70,000 organizations – including 57,000 schools – signed up for the program. As of December 2012 they helped collect over 164 MILLION drink pouches and collectively earned over 3.2 million dollars.
The collected pouches are upcycled or recycled into a variety of products. School items like pencil cases and backpacks that help to complete the education for kids. The students get to see what the pouches they helped collect are turned into for a second life. Pouches are also recycled into more utilitarian products like park benches, picnic tables and railroad ties.
TerraCycle’s programs are sponsored by some of the world’s largest companies. These major companies include Kraft Foods, Nestle, Mars, Inc., Kimberly-Clark, Frito-Lay, Kashi, Sanford, Elmer’s Products, Inc, Logitech, Old Navy, Clif Bar, Sprout Baby Food, 3M, Malt-O-Meal, Colgate, Palmolive, L’Oreal, and BIC.