America's Waste Innovator Recycling Anything

From Toothbrushes and TVs to Bricks and Barrels, US Garbage Start-up Terracycle are up to the Challenge

12.04.2018 | by Kezia Parkins
Photo by Pinterest
Photo by Pinterest
“Provide us with a problem, and we provide you with the solution”. That is the mission statement of US garbage start-up Terracycle, who are disrupting the recycling industry with a can-do attitude towards reusing materials. Indeed, the much-publicised firm continues to turn heads in the waste-management industry, with innovative technologies that allow the reuse, upcycling and recycling of almost any item.

The garbage gurus have become celebrated for their reverse engineering, which they themselves refer to as “planned obsolescence”, or a one-time use and toss. The leaders behind Terracycle have created an environmentally-friendly cycle between brands who finance the recycling programmes, retailers who sell the products and consumers, who are pivotal to the recycling process. Terracycle has become famous for its “circular solutions” for waste management systems which may have previously only had linear solutions. The mission-driven company has operated under a for-profit structure – an interesting trait from an otherwise social enterprise.

The firm operates with the end goal of discarding the idea of waste by demonstrating to the public the economic, environmental and cultural values of reducing and recycling various products and materials. Indeed, the U.S-based firm has announced plans to expand its eco-efforts from 24 to 40 countries, making the company’s work truly global.

The wonder behind Terracycle, however, lies in how the firm offers global recycling programmes for waste that is otherwise deemed as non-recyclable. Inspired by the World Economic Forum and other organisations who promote to the concept of circularity and the emulation of nature, Terracycle has given new life to waste such as toothbrushes, bottles, bricks, barrels and pipes.

Demonstrating its innovative efforts, Terracycle has recently entered a partnership with Colgate and ShopRite, launching the fifth annual Recycled Playground Challenge, which educated students, teachers and communities about preserving a healthy environment. In past challenges, there was only one winner, but this year, students can compete for one of two recycled playgrounds for their school.

Schools across the United States were eligible to compete for two new playgrounds made entirely of recycled material by joining TerraCycle’s Colgate Oral Care Recycling Program, a free, national program hosted by Colgate and TerraCycle. Schools donated waste such as empty toothpaste tubes and floss containers, which were then sent to TerraCycle in exchange for “Playground Credit” toward winning the grand prize playground.

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