Four Ways Companies Are Elevating Their Sustainability Initiatives

Four Ways Companies Are Elevating Their Sustainability Initiatives

Climate change and COVID-19 have been the fashion wake-up call we all needed. People are catching wind of how dirty the fashion industry is and are gladly waving goodbye to fast fashion and inviting sustainable staples to establish a permanent presence in their lives. Professional women across the world are taking a 360 view of their closets and leaning toward the brands that place sustainability at the forefront of their missions.
Consumers are no longer looking at brand names and elite status, rather, they're diving deeper into the companies values, mission, and environmental impact. Today, more than ever, we are focused on the action items companies are taking to continuously push the limits of innovation and a cleaner future. Here are four ways companies are leveling up their sustainability initiatives.

1) Transparency.

Congratulations, each and every one of you has front row seats to today’s transparency race. Grab your popcorn and bloody Mary, because companies are off to the races. Brands are leading with transparency for customers to feel confident in what they are buying, where it comes from, and under what social, economic, and environmental conditions it’s being produced. Everlane is a pioneer and leader of sustainability with their bold slogan “radical transparency.” They weave transparency into every aspect of their business model, sharing the true cost behind all of their products, from material, to labor, to transportation. Just like dating, customers are establishing a new level of trust with companies intertwining transparency into the brands DNA and communicating openly in a way that feels like a personalized, 1:1 conversation.

2) Circular thinking.

The future of fashion is circular, and I am not talking about your high school geometry class. Circular fashion is a system when the production of an item and the end of the item's life are equally as important. Circular fashion is the perfect collision of sustainability and circular economy. It all starts with manufacturing and pushing the limits of longevity and timelessness. Then focusing on materials used and whether or not they are sustainable. Once the customer has decided they no longer need or want the product, rather than trashing the item, the item will be repaired, re-designed, swapped, or sold second-hand. Consider this product to have a second, third, and even fourth life. Take for example, Thousand Fell shoes. They take a material-first approach ensuing materials used can biodegradable or recycled. They have also established a partnership with TerraCycle so unwanted shoes can be broken down into recycled raw materials to be used to create new shoes. Since these materials are not being sent to a landfill, Thousand Fell is creating a circular model so materials can be used and reused continuously. [Relate: Four Steps to Building a Sustainable, Successful, Soul-Driven Business]

3) Resale.

This is an element of circular fashion that is changing how we are approaching shopping habits and rate of consumption. Secondhand style sector has only amplified from the pandemic, and the luxury market is hopping on this surge. It's become every woman’s dream to get their hands on designer styles for a reasonable buy in rate. Today, brands are beginning to introduce resale programs to their customers. Gucci has partnered with The Real Real and the largest luxury names to support second hand. This partnership has allowed Gucci to win over a younger demographic and give the younger generation an entry point into a taste for luxury at an affordable price.

4) Developing textile innovations.

With a sense of urgency to reduce the textile industries environmental impact, designers are gravitating toward innovative materials that will change the way your clothes are made. While coffee, pineapple, and bananas sound like items you would find at your resort vacation’s breakfast, they are in fact natural resources that are used to create fabrics that are shaking up the textile industry. Rather than throwing away coffee grounds, coffee ground fibers can be used to make performance wear with anti-odor qualities, UV ray protection, and quick drying time. Coffee grounds' second life embracing circular thinking. Sustainability has brought a wave of knowledge, advocacy, and innovation to the fashion space. From businesses rethinking their product offering and customers re-thinking their purchasing habits, the future of fashion is certainly changing for the better. As we collectively move forward with a conscious consumption mindset, circularity will be a big part of the future of fashion.

Silk textile brand partners with TerraCycle

Silk clothing and bedding brand LILYSILK is partnering with Trenton-based international recycler TerraCycle to offer customers the opportunity to recycle their products for free. The LILYSILK Recycling Program was announced Jan. 5. “At LILYSILK, we believe that zero waste can make a huge difference, so we are leading by example in the hope of encouraging our customers to join us,” said David Wang, LILYSILK chief executive officer, in a prepared statement. “Participating in the recycling program is a natural and meaningful way for people to say goodbye to their LILYSILK products when the time comes. As part of our commitment to make the world greener, we are delighted to partner up with TerraCycle to be more proactive regarding environmental sustainability.” Through the recycling program, consumers can send in all non-donatable LILYSILK textiles – including bedding, apparel, and sleepwear made from silk and cashmere – to be recycled free of charge. Consumers can sign up on online, wash and package all textiles in an available box, and mail the box in using a prepaid shipping label. LILYSILK textiles will then be turned into a shredded fiber and used as a filler for cushions, pillows, and linings. “Partnering with environmentally-conscious businesses like LILYSILK aligns well with TerraCycle’s mission to ‘Eliminate the Idea of Waste’ and, in turn, care for the planet,” said TerraCycle Founder and CEO Tom Szaky in a prepared statement. “Through their recycling program, LILYSILK is providing consumers with a sustainable option to part with their LILYSILK textiles that can no longer be passed on or donated when they reach the end of their useful life.” Interested individuals, schools, offices, or community organizations can participate in the LILYSILK Recycling Program.

The high street goes vegan! From Nando's 'spiced chickpea burger' to Papa John's dairy-free cheesy bites, FEMAIL reveals the delicious plant-based treats on offer this January

With more than half a million people expected to sign up to go plant-based for the month of January, dozen of British high-street retailers have announced vegan menus. Following public demand, Babybel has answered vegan and flexitarian wishes and is proud to be launching the world's first ever Babybel Plant-Based in the UK. And the makeover continues with a fully recyclable paper outer bag carrying the five alternative-to-cheese snacks inside, whilst the wrapper and wax for each mini snack is recyclable via Babybel's TerraCycle scheme. The move takes Babybel one step closer to its target to have all packaging recyclable or compostable by 2025.

LilySilk launches recycling programme with TerraCycle

image.png Leading silk brand LilySilk has launched a recycling programme in partnership with TerraCycle to strengthen its commitment to zero waste. The LilySilk Recycling Programme allows consumers to recycle non-donatable LilySilk textiles, including bedding, apparel, and sleepwear made from silk and cashmere, for free across the US. David Wang, LilySilk chief executive, said in a statement: “At LilySilk, we believe that zero waste can make a huge difference, so we are leading by example in the hope of encouraging our customers to join us. “Participating in the recycling programme is a natural and meaningful way for people to say goodbye to their LilySilk products when the time comes. As part of our commitment to make the world greener, we are delighted to partner up with TerraCycle to be more proactive regarding environmental sustainability.” It is easy for consumers to recycle LilySilk textiles, they just need to sign up to the initiative on TerraCycle’s website, and then wash and package all textiles in an available box and mail the box in using a prepaid shipping label. Once collected, the LilySilk textiles will be recycled into shredded fibre and used as a filler for cushions, pillows, and linings. TerraCycle founder and chief executive, Tom Szaky, added: “Partnering with environmentally-conscious businesses like LilySilk aligns well with TerraCycle’s mission to ‘Eliminate the Idea of Waste’ and, in turn, care for the planet,” said “Through their recycling program, LilySilk is providing consumers with a sustainable option to part with their LilySilk textiles that can no longer be passed on or donated when they reach the end of their useful life.”

Pennard partnership ramps up recycling

A south-west practice group has launched a range of recycling initiatives in a bid to ensure the employee-owned group’s waste stays out of landfills. Pennard Vets has joined forces with Hill’s Pet Nutrition and recycling firm TerraCycle to drive the recycling of food pet containers, as well as any other waste.

Closing the Loop for the Syringe Filters

 Medical-products maker Cytiva and recycler TerraCycle are working to convert multi-material syringe filters into useable products.  image.png
Cytiva’s goal is to recycle 500,000 syringe filters this year, roughly equal to 3500 lb of filtration devices. (Photo: Cytiva)
When recycling is mentioned, the focus is often on big—big goals, big volumes and so forth. But in order to truly achieve a circular economy, you have to think both big and small. Syringe filters, which are about the size of a checkers game piece, are a key part of any lab setting but are not reusable and can make up a large portion of waste from a facility. Based in Marlborough, Mass., Cytiva, a global producer of medical, laboratory and other life-sciences products, makes more than 25 million syringe filters each year that are used in a variety of settings, from healthcare and pharmacies to monitoring air-pollution levels. Cytiva assembles the filters from components that are made by other firms. Cytiva estimates that industry-wide, hundreds of millions of filters are disposed of yearly. Recycling the filters has been complex as they contain a filter membrane that must be separated from the housing prior to recycling. The most common material used in the filters is polypropylene for the injection molded housings and a wide variety of materials for the filter membrane, including PVDF, PTFE, PET, nylon, polycarbonate, ceramic and  various fabrics. The filters often contain nonhazardous biomass as well. Cytiva assembles the filters using ultrasonic welding.
“We call it ‘recycling the unrecyclable’ because it truly hasn’t been done before.”
Ryan Walker, sustainability program leader at Cytiva, said the company is focused on ways to increase sustainability. The idea of recycling syringe filters came up, but they knew it would be a challenge. “Because of both what our customers put through the filters, and the encapsulation of this membrane, no one had ever figured out how to recycle these before,” Walker says. “And so our customers are left with one of two options: they can either landfill them, or they can incinerate them.”
Recycler TerraCycle in Trenton, N.J., partners with consumer-product companies, retailers and cities to recycle typically unrecyclable products and packaging that would otherwise end up in the landfill. The company has solved complex recycling challenges like diapers and cigarette filters in the past and also has experience recycling materials from lab environments and handling mixed plastics.  “I remember looking at the materials, the filter and syringes, and thought, ‘Maybe we could do this,’” said Ernel Simpson, TerraCycle’s director of polymer engineering. “I had a conversation with some of the people on my team and we got to look at this and we found a method for recycling.”
Cytiva and TerraCycle have started a new program to convert these syringe filters into useable products. Cytiva’s goal is to recycle 500,000 syringe filters a year, roughly equating to 3500 lb of filtration devices. The pilot project with TerraCycle will focus initially on the U.S. and only on customers that are not generating biological or hazardous waste. “We call it ‘recycling the unrecyclable’ because it truly hasn’t been done before,” Walker said. The way the program works is that TerraCycle boxes are provided to labs to collect used filters. Each box can contain approximately 10,000 syringe filters. Once collected, the filters will be recycled into material suitable for use in industrial applications, such as composite decking, shipping pallets, and various compression molded products.
POET, a bioethanol company based in Sioux Falls, S.D., recently enrolled in the program, and five of its facilities nationwide are now participating. Syringe filters are the second-highest share of plastic waste in the lab.
close up of syringe filters
The syringe filters typically comprise an injection molded PP housing and a filter membrane made of any of a variety of materials, including PTFE. Cytiva assembles the filter units by ultrasonic welding. (Photo: Cytiva)

Size Reduction

One thing that always happens in recycling is size reduction. While these filters are small to begin with, Simpson says TerraCycle reduces it even more in order to remove the filter from the housing as they are typically of different materials. “We wanted a certain particle sizes so that, when the filter and housing are separated, we reduce the loss of material. The smaller the particle size is, the more losses you incur, and we wanted to reduce any loss to a minimum,” he said. “So we had a specific particle size that we shred the material to.” Separation is usually by density, using float/sink technology.
Most often, TerraCycle is working with syringe filters with PP housings. “We want to have polypropylene as clean as possible for possible reuse at Cytiva or elsewhere. The purity is what we're looking for,” Simpson says. “We are able to separate the filters from the housing after size reduction. So we have the filter material, and we have the PP housing, so we're able to get the PP and granulate that and use it as a feedstock.”
“We want to have polypropylene as clean as possible for possible reuse at Cytiva or elsewhere.”
The non-PP filter membrane materials separated from the PP housings are currently being stored. The researchers in this pilot project hope to find a way to recycle those materials as well. The intent is to recycle 100% of everything that they collect, if possible.
Cytiva receives a monthly report from TerraCycle on how many syringe filters have been recycled. Walker says Cytiva would eventually like to buy back some of the recycled feedstock and use it in some of their products. “While TerraCycle uses the material in things like park benches, in our ideal world, we'd love to go much more circular,” Walker explains. While at present, Cytiva wouldn’t be able to use recycled material in actual syringe filters, the firm could potentially use it in packaging and other products. “So we could say to customers that when you recycle it and buy from us again, it is a circular solution,” Walker notes.
Recycling half a million syringe filters is the goal for the first year and Walker anticipates increasing that every year. “While we're in our infancy with this project, we already have thousands of syringe filters that have been recycled currently, and more are coming in. And we're hoping that more will come in at a faster pace.”

Dunkin’ Announces National Recycling Program in Partnership with TerraCycle


Over the years, recycling issues and waste reduction have been widely discussed in a collaborative attempt to eliminate waste. Throughout the pandemic, take-out and delivery services listened to the needs of their customers and delivered food in sustainable and recyclable packaging. Dining patrons are drawn to businesses that believe in sustainable waste management and promote recycling through the use of disposable products.

TerraCycle, which started as a waste management company, has grown internationally to help companies recycle waste back into their products. The company has just recently partnered with Dunkin’ to launch the first coffee recycling bag program in the United States. This partnership will allow both companies to stay committed to eliminating the waste that goes into landfills. Entrepreneur and visionary Tom Szaky created the company during his collegiate career at Princeton University. “I came up with the idea during my freshman year in an Intro to Economics class. The first question the professor asked was ‘What is the purpose of business?’ The answer she was looking for was ‘to maximize profit for shareholders.’ That didn’t sit right with me, as I believed that profit was an indicator of health. If a company is profitable, it grows and proposes a solution to a need in the marketplace,” Szaky shared. Szaky left college during his sophomore year to pursue a business full-time. “I wanted to find a business that put purpose first that aimed to make the world better. I landed in the garbage industry and developed Terracycle. Garbage is the least innovative industry for dollar revenue purposes so I thought addressing this for waste management purposes would be beneficial.” image.png
Tom Szaky, Founder + CEO, TerraCycle The mission of TerraCycle is to eliminate the idea of waste and the company achieves this in three ways. They consider how they can collect and recycle those things that are not locally recyclable, address how they can integrate recycled content back into products, as well as discuss how a shift from disposable to reusable ecosystems can be achieved.Prior to starting TerraCycle out of his New Jersey dorm room, Szaky was inspired by his friends in Montreal who were growing plants in their basement. On a spring break trip to visit them, he noticed their plants were growing because of what they were eating. His friends were taking organic waste, feeding it to worms, and giving the worm waste to the plants. “I initially started TerraCycle as a worm waste company and then got an office and as orders came in, I invested in a facility and built the company one step at a time. The company grew and we were selling our products at Home Depot, Walmart, Target, and other companies. 4 years in, we had a turning point in sales and asked ourselves ‘Could we eliminate waste if we made a product out of waste?’ TerraCycle then took a new direction and wanted to start with waste that is not locally recyclable, meaning it costs more to collect and process. When they successfully got retailers to fund their project, their first initiative began. “We launched programs and took that model and expanded it internationally to 21 different countries. We then wanted to help companies impregnate waste back into their products and packaging. We were growing tremendously, and we were at about $50 million dollars in revenue.” Wanting to expand beyond recycling, the company then launched its Loop division, a shopping system that allows customers to shop their favorite brands in reusable packaging. Dunkin’ is not TerraCycle’s first food industry partnership. The company has worked with Hilton hotels in using recyclable key cards, as well as helping Taco Bell launch a national recyclable program. “Helping Dunkin’ to become the first coffee bag recycling program in the U.S. is just the start. We want to bring this concept to other foodservice products they use and help carve the way for other companies to invest in a sustainable mindset.” Rather than promote a linear solution of extracting materials from the Earth, developing a product, and disposing of it, TerraCycle hopes to promote circular solutions which reuse products for other purposes. By visiting terracycle.com and joining the program, stakeholders can take part in a meaningful way to increase sustainability efforts.
About TerraCycle: TerraCycle is an innovative waste management company with a mission to eliminate the idea of waste. Operating nationally across 21 countries, TerraCycle partners with leading consumer product companies, retailers and cities to recycle products and packages, from dirty diapers to cigarette butts, that would otherwise end up being landfilled or incinerated. In addition, TerraCycle works with leading consumer product companies to integrate hard to recycle waste streams, such as ocean plastic, into their products and packaging. Its new division, Loop, is the first shopping system that gives consumers a way to shop for their favorite brands in durable, reusable packaging. TerraCycle has won over 200 awards for sustainability and has donated over $44 million to schools and charities since its founding more than 15 years ago and was named #10 in Fortune magazine’s list of 52 companies Changing the World. To learn more about TerraCycle or get involved in its recycling programs, please visit their website.