Self-described “eco-capitalist” Tom Szaky describes how his company TerraCycle is changing the recycling game:
…I found myself wondering: What if we tried to eliminate the idea of waste? Instead of focusing on making plant food from food scraps, we would strive to solve for all of the world’s waste and reduce the strains on our environmental resources.
The first step to solving for waste is to look at any object from three components: the material it is made from, the form it is in, and its intended purpose. We thought it at the time, and TerraCycle has found today that every consumer waste stream, even cigarette butts (TerraCycle Canada was the first in the company’s history to recycle them in 2012), can either be reused (values material, form and intention), upcycled (values the material and form), or recycled (values the material).
TerraCycle’s current “sponsored waste” business model allows us to circumvent the economic limitations of municipal recycling and create new infrastructures for regenerative waste solutions. Working with companies paying to solve for their difficult-to-recycle product and packaging waste lets us make the previously unrecyclable nationally recyclable and break ground in new categories along the way.