Posts with term TerraCycle X

Revolution in a Bottle: How TerraCycle Redefines Green Business

My book, Revolution in a Bottle, hit the streets this week. It follows the story of TerraCycle from our beginnings in my dorm room, shoveling maggot filled organic waste, to creating products we sold to Wal-Mart and other major big box retailers, getting sued by Scotts and creating “sponsored waste” programs to upcycle branded waste. It also offers insights on how we approach media and pursue new opportunities. Read on to catch an excerpt from the book. In many ways, what follows are lessons I learned on the job as an untrained and highly instinctual entrepreneur. TerraCycle taught me extreme forms of bootstrapping, and many of the innovations for which we are known were responses to failures of initial attempts in packaging, marketing, product development and even investor pitches. For me, the key to our success was having one big idea—making the greenest, most affordable and effective products from waste—and holding firmly to it. As you will see, there were numerous times when, for example, to attract investment, we might have compromised our environmental commitments, but if we did, TerraCycle would have ended up like one of many companies, rather than in a league of its own. We let the idea of our company—producing a range of green products made from and packaged in waste without charging a premium for them—live and grow within us. Not only did that commitment distinguish us with our immediate customers (large retail companies), and with end consumers, local and national press and with our sponsored waste brand partners, it also gave us cost advantages over other co

What is More Valuable - Material or People's Time?

So many coffee lovers have switched to single portion delivery devices produced by a variety of brands, including Tassimo, Flavia and Green Mountain. The coffee tastes is always fresh, perfectly brewed and one doesn’t waste extra coffee left from brewing a full pot. However, the packaging isn't made to be recyclable, so if it is to be diverted from landfills, it needs to go through a time consuming process of disassembly. This begs a serious environmental question. The single dose cartridge is a composite of aluminum, plastic and coffee. It used cartridge is currently not recyclable and is what Bill McDonough would call a "monstrous hybrid" since all three parts on their own are either compostable or recyclable, but together they make a unit that isn't readily recyclable and thus is headed to the landfill. (The same is true for a wide range of common products too long to list here). The solution to waste streams like this is to collect them and “dissemble.” The separation of the three basic materials is hard to automate and likely must be done by hand, at which point, the coffee can be easily be composted and the plastic and aluminum recycled.

What Do Lays Chip Bags And Classical Music Have In Common?

Even though it seems everyone has an iPod or MP3 player and is downloading music, traditional CD's are still a huge business. The jewel cases are made from a variety of plastics that break easily and are not easy recyclable; sooner or later most of them will end up in landfills. I’m excited to tell you about the world’s most eco-friendly CD case TerraCycle just created made from recycled, shredded chip bags! By compressing many layers together, it creates a sturdy material, much stronger than cardboard. We have already used this material to create clip boards which are sold at Office Max. They’re very colorful and unique; no two look the same. Talk about a double solution to keep non-recyclable waste out of landfills! First, we give new use to the waste chip bags, and by that use, new plastic CD cases don’t need to be created. And yes, TerraCycle will take the used CD cases back and turn them into some other product.

Garbage Moguls, the TerraCycle Reality TV Show!

After 3 years of pitching networks, meeting with various producers, and all of the other Hollywood headaches,TerraCycle finally has our own Reality TV Show. Garbage Moguls, which debut's on National Geographic Channel on Earth Day, April 22, at 9pm EST and 9pm PST, follows our team at TerraCycle as we take waste like Oreo Wrappers and Coca-Cola Billboards, figure out how to upcycle them into products like kites and messenger bags, and finally sell them to a major retailers like Wal-Mart and Office Max. Check out more info after the jump. Our hope with the series is to bring awareness around trash and waste in a fun and exciting way, and highlight what one can do with it. Perhaps this show may become a vehicle to take upcycling mainstream? I'd love to hear your opinion though. If you were our executive producer how would you ensure that the green movement sees the biggest impact, without hurting (and in fact growing) the ratings? And don't forget to turn on your TV or TIVO for 4/22 at 9pm EST and PST!

Plastic Labeling System Often Confused for Recyclability of Plastic Products

Have you ever noticed on the bottom of a plastic product one of these 7 symbols? It's a number inside a recycling logo. In seeing a label like this you might have thought, "Oh isn't it nice this product is recyclable..." I’m sorry to inform you that if you had that reaction, you, like most people who see that symbol and number, would be mistaken in your assumption. These labels have nothing to do with the recyclable nature of the plastic. Instead, the label has been used as an international standard to identify what type of plastic is used - called the "PIC." The PIC was introduced by the Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. to provide a uniform system for the identification of different polymer types. This becomes clear when you see #7 - "OTHER”: In “other” words, you put this logo on it to represent all other forms of plastic not represented in the first 6 categories, independent of whether it is recyclable or not.

Would You Pay More to Go Green?

As I've written in this blog previously, I believe the "green premium" works against green businesses, limiting their growth and thus their collective impact on sustainability. I think that all green producers should cut costs and focus on volume to offset their lower margins. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone citing marketing research that concludes consumers are willing to pay more for a green product. Clearly, people are wiling to pay more for what they perceive as a better product (people pay more for luxury cars, nicer homes, better wine, and organics). Many companies that produce green products and charge a "green premium" are viable and growing, though I know of none that are as large as conventional competitors. Yes, retailer Whole Foods Market always seems to be doing a booming business, but it represents a small share of overall retail business and the products sold at Whole Foods Market are limited to certain personal categories where people may be more willing to pay a green premium than generally. Do me a favor. In the next week, or even better, next month, watch your purchasing decisions. How often do you pay more for something that you perceive to be green? How high a premium do you believe you pay, and in what categories are you more or less likely to accept a green premium? Has your attitude about paying a premium for green changed as the economy has declined? I'd be grateful for any observations and insights.

4 Radical Solutions to Packaging Waste

As CEO of TerraCycle, I'm constantly thinking about how to solve problems with waste. From bottle bills to packaging taxes, nothing is too out-there to me. I've come up with four radical solutions that could help curb the problem. Click through for my concepts and let me know your reactions and alternative ideas. 1. Tax Non-Standard Packaging One reason why so few things are recyclable is because of the variety of packaging forms (different composite materials) and styles. If packaging were more standardized, a much greater amount of packaging waste could be recycled. Should we create a standard and tax those brands that use non-standard packaging? 2. Outlaw landfills We could outlaw landfills, incineration, and sending waste outside of the country. While this is drastic, it would drive innovation, and in effect mandate bio-degradable/recyclable/reusable packaging and force consumers to think twice about consumption. Another option, slightly less drastic but probably with equal effect, would be to dramatically increase the cost of sending waste to landfill, thus creating financial incentive to consumers.

Revolution in a Bottle: How TerraCycle Redefines Green Business

My book, Revolution in a Bottle, hit the streets this week. It is a quick read that is meant to flow more like a novel, less like a business book. It follows the story of TerraCycle from our beginnings in my dorm room, shoveling maggot filled organic waste to creating products we sold to Wal-Mart and other major big box retailers, getting sued by Scotts and creating “sponsored waste” programs to upcycle branded waste. It also offers insights on how we approach media and pursue new opportunities. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction: While it has not always led to the “right” decision, I have learned that I must always trust my gut. Sometimes this has led to hiring people without requisite experience but who have turned out to be gems as they developed their art. In some cases, I’ve opened doors to people and situations that have been problematic, but through each adverse experience, the company grew stronger. As one pathway we were pursuing became blocked or looked less promising, another would always open. As I think over the roller coaster of TerraCycle’s early history, I can see that it would have been impossible to predict or plan how to develop TerraCycle to the place where it stands today. The trick was to be ever vigilant in seeking opportunities, and to be ready to jump on them if they felt right inside and consistent with core mission, even before they could be well thought out. And, I have learned, by picking up the shovel (when we made our first years’ batches of worm poop), to actually working the iron and sewing machine as we made our first prototype upcycled materials and bags, that I could ground an idea in real time, and shortcut speculation about hypotheticals.

Could In-Sourcing Labor Be a Solution for Rebuilding American Manufacturing?

For decades, we in the US have watched jobs--especially manual labor--be exported overseas to countries like China, Vietnam, and India, where people work for significantly less money. In general, I've noticed that wages drop by an order of magnitude, moving from developed ($10/hour) to developing counties ($10/day) and then by another order of magnitude when moving from developing countries to third world ($1/day). These are rough numbers, but they do underscore my point. Beyond issues of equity and environment, one of the major negatives to manufacturing abroad is transportation (namely, the costs and time). It stinks having to wait six to eight weeks for your goods to make it from China on a boat. So are there alternatives? Or do we have to just accept a global manufacturing system? Tariffs have been used to protect domestic workers--but what if we offered negative tariffs--that is incentives--for goods to be manufactured in the US?

TerraCycle Announces Initiative to Collect Non-Recyclable Waste at Big Box Stores Nationwide

We are extremely excited to announce here on Treehugger, for the first time ever the next phase of the TerraCycle national, non-recyclable waste collection system in the front of major retail stores across the country! For more details, click below the fold. Phase 1 of of our process involves groups collecting specific packaging waste and sending it to us, postage paid. The program has been growing since mid-2007. As you may already know, you can go to www.terracycle.net and sign up to collect a whole range of waste streams. We donate $0.02 to $0.06 per unit of waste you collect to your favorite charity. The program is currently in more than 20,000 locations (mostly schools and civic groups), engaging more than 3 million Americans nationwide. Our plans are to double this collection capacity in the next year or two. Phase II involves permanent collection points for non-recycable packaging in the front of stores where the products are sold. We are partnering with a number of major big-box retailers (such as Petco, OfficeMax, Home Depot, Best Buy, and more) to bring collection systems into their stores nationwide.