How to recycle just about anything

TerraCycle has made a name for itself as the company that recycles the ‘unrecyclable’. It is working with beauty brands internationally both on tailored recycling programmes and as part of the Loop refill scheme. But what does partnering with TerraCycle entail? And what happens to your packs – whether destined for recycling or refill – once collected? Cosmetics Business provides an exclusive peek behind the scenes of this important player in the move to make beauty greener

Back in 2001, while a college freshman at Princeton University, Tom Szaky founded the business that would eventually become the global leader in recycling hard-to-recycle materials. Although, back then, TerraCycle was conceptually a bit different from the company we know today.

“The original business model was vermicomposting – converting food waste into worm poop – and selling the resulting fertiliser,” says Stephen Clarke, Head of Communications at TerraCycle Europe.

“Since there was no budget for packaging, the TerraCycle team went through recycling bins looking for used drinks bottles to use as packaging for the fertiliser.

“Recycling drinks bottles would eventually become the basis of the TerraCycle we know today.”

Headquartered in Trenton, New Jersey, nowadays TerraCycle works with the world’s best-known brands in 21 countries across the globe to collect used packaging and products that would otherwise be destined for landfill.

This waste is then repurposed into new, eco-friendly materials and products that are available online and through major retailers.

“The waste is collected through TerraCycle’s national recycling programmes, which are free fundraisers that pay schools, charities and non-profits for every piece of waste they collect and return,” Clarke tells Cosmetics Business.

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