The Canadian rummaging through trash cans around the world

TerraCycle Include Canada (English) Procter & Gamble Carrefour Walgreens Tesco Pampers Loop Häagen-Dazs Loblaw Burger King Kraft-Heinz
Tom Szaky says, “Wow! " Maybe he plugs his nose like we all do, but in front of a full Pampers - just like in front of a cigarette butt, glasses of glasses thrown in the trash or fabrics with enigmatic names of fibers doomed to the dumps. - he sees the opportunity to find a solution. Born in Hungary, arrived in Toronto at the age of 5, now living in New Jersey - he studied at Princeton -, Tom Szaky is truly one of the entrepreneurs who stand out in the world by greedily embracing the challenges of the circular economy. You may know one of his babies, Loop, a company already present in the United States, France and the United Kingdom, which has just arrived in Canada and which allows brands sold in supermarkets to use containers. recorded. It's being tested in Toronto now, in partnership with Loblaw and other well-known brands, such as Heinz or Häagen-Dazs. "It's been just over a week and we've exceeded our one-month goals," Szaky said in a telephone interview. Basically: we order online, it is delivered by Loop, the customer consumes the contents - soup, ketchup, juice, etc. -, and the container is then taken back by a delivery system which will carry everything for cleaning. Then the containers will return to the brands, who will refill them, resell them. You get the picture. And it will be in Montreal at the beginning of 2022, the garbage recycling giant told me. Because there isn't just Loop in the life of the 39-year-old entrepreneur. There is also TerraCycle, his first company, dedicated to the transformation of waste. His first product, at the very beginning, in 2001, was kitchen waste, which he vermicomposted, sold in recycled plastic bottles. But today, it has gone much further in the recovery and transformation of waste long considered irrecoverable, such as dirty disposable diapers - which its teams make into plastics in particular - and cigarette butts, from which they also extract plastics from the filter, while composting the rest of the tobacco. TerraCycle also works to collect and process plastic bottles around the world. Because the company is everywhere, from Tokyo to Trenton, in Ontario, present in twenty countries. With laboratories all over the place, but mainly in New Jersey - in a landfill - TerraCycle is constantly doing research. Its business model: wait for a major player to ask for its help. The company does not seek to sell its green solutions. She finds solutions for those who want them. In large scale. Its partners are called Walgreens, Home Hardware, Procter & Gamble… The list goes on. One of the next projects: promoting waste as an information medium. The contents of diapers say a lot about the health of babies, as does used oil on the condition of engines, says Tom Szaky. You might as well take advantage of everything that can be revealed.   Another avenue explored: the Loop system of material reuse in a loop, but applied to cloth diapers and children's clothing. It's coming fast in the United States and the United Kingdom. In both cases, in partnership with very large companies. So, we forget the small community cloth diaper cleaning service. We think big brands sold in supermarkets. With cleaning, transport and reuse systems in the case of diapers. And simply a cash deposit system, such as a deposit, in the case of baby clothes. Deposit that we recover, of course, by bringing back clothes that have become too small. *** TerraCycle is not a newcomer to the world of waste recovery and recycling. It was founded in 2001 when young Szaky was a student at Princeton. It was during a trip with friends from university to Montreal, at this time, that he saw for the first time worms transforming organic waste into compost and that he had the idea of make the first product of his waste recovery business. Today, about a third of the company's work is industrial waste, and the rest is our everyday consumer waste. The next challenge right now is, you guessed it, on the side of masks, gloves and all the disposable equipment used in the fight against COVID-19. “There's a whole new stream of waste here,” says Szaky. TerraCycle takes care of it.   But the real challenge, 20 years after the discovery of vermicomposting, is no longer concentrated at all towards the quest for new waste streams, new gold in the bins. The new frontier is logistics on a large scale, the search for solutions that work on a large scale and, above all, very, very large. Loop, for example, now operates on a large scale in the United Kingdom with the giant Tesco, in France with Carrefour, and in the United States with notably Walgreens and Burger King! Major players.   Currently, explains Mr. Szaky, there is a remarkable awakening of individuals to the need to produce less waste as well as to recover and reuse objects. Consumers' support is therefore less difficult to obtain than before. Loop's home in Toronto is one example, as is the proliferation of grocery stores offering unpackaged products. But the world of recovery and reuse is also becoming more complex, and the financial challenges are not trivial. The price of oil is low, so there is less reason to want to recover its derivatives otherwise. Also, the raw material is not what it was 20 years ago. There is less waste than before, they are lighter, packaging is often made with more complex materials, more difficult to work with and to break down. (Besides, Szaky thinks that packaging should be simplified, not become more and more multi-layered and multi-material.) Countries that bought waste from others became more demanding. We saw it, in Quebec, when China started to refuse our waste.   When I ask him if the company also intends to take new paths to integrate its work into larger, more global pollution reduction systems, Tom Szaky answers no. “You want to focus on one problem and be good,” he says. So Loop does not come with a guarantee of green transport, for example. It is up to the partners to then be consistent. In France, Carrefour is looking for a solution for “green” delivery. And can consumers do more to recycle better?   Should we buy everything second-hand? At TerraCycle, offices all over the planet are fitted out and furnished with recycled materials, used objects. “Actually, no,” Mr. Szaky replies. “What is needed more than anything is buying less. "