Posts with term Teva X

How TerraCycle is partnering with DTC brands on recycling programs

Waste recycling company TerraCycle is becoming a popular solution among DTC brands. TerraCycle, founded in 2001, works with large corporations on recycling mostly plastic waste. Its partners include L’Oréal, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and most recently Kroger. Last year, Kroger expanded its recycling program — in which customers could drop off plastic Kroger packaging — to thousands of its private labels products.
In the past month, TerraCycle announced partnerships with two direct-to-consumer startups — underwear brand Parade and sleepwear company Lilysilk. Zachary Dominitz, senior vp of brand partnerships at TerraCycle, said that startups want to work with companies like TerraCycle because they are “resource-challenged,” yet “understand the importance” of reducing waste and recycling. These types of partnerships are an increasingly big part of these DTC brands’ overall sustainability goals, which executives say feed into their branding and marketing efforts. TerraCycle collects and then breaks down waste material, and repurposes the material into everything from home insulation to furniture and bedding. The company makes money by charging companies to operate their consumer-facing recycling programs. In 2020, TerraCycle U.S. reported $25 million in net sales, down 9% from 2019 due to pandemic-related slowdowns. (TerraCycle hasn’t reported 2021 figures yet). The company currently operates in over 20 countries, and has several product collection hubs across the country for quicker customer shipping. TerraCycle has dabbled in upcycling fashion items in the past. In April 2021, the company partnered with footwear brand Teva on recycling customers’ used TevaForever sandals. That month, the company also kicked off a kidswear recycling program with Carter’s, called Kidcycle. But this year, TerraCycle is pushing further into apparel and textile by striking deals with DTC brands.

Why DTC brands are outsourcing recycling

Last week, DTC underwear brand Parade launched Second Life by Parade with TerraCycle. The program allows consumers to recycle any brand of underwear through the program. It’s available via prepaid mailing package, and customers can also drop off their used items at Parade’s New York City store. In exchange, customers receive a 20% off discount on their next Parade purchase. This incentive is similar to H&M’s product drop-off program. “We knew a lot of customers were interested in recycling their old products,” Kerry Steib, vp of brand and impact at Parade said. “But you can’t resell or thrift underwear.” That’s when Parade sought out TerraCycle, Steib said. For a young startup like Parade, the program allows for seamless reverse logistics that make it straightforward for customers to participate, she explained. To create a textile-focused recycling program, Parade worked with TerraCycle on material analysis, as this is both companies’ first national underwear recycling initiative. Fashion and apparel is a new foray for TerraCycle, which required more planning ahead of the program’s launch. Dominitz told Modern Retail that oftentimes in the apparel industry, a lot of material isn’t truly recycled, and so TerraCycle’s R&D team has to assess whether it can be broken down in a sanitary way. Normally, a lot of brands TerraCycle works with have plastic products. However, apparel brands like Parade require specific machinery techniques to completely shred the material. This partnership is one part of Parade’s overall sustainability roadmap, in which the company aims to become climate positive by 2025. This year, Parade joined the Science Based Targets Initiative, an organization with over 1,000 companies setting climate action plans. In 2020, Parade launched its first carbon-neutral underwear, the Universal. This past fall, the company debuted its SuperSoft sleep collection, which it said is made from 95% less water than traditional sleepwear. Parade is continuously looking at other ways to develop products that are easier to upcycle. “The challenge is in creating better recyclable products at the same price point,” Steib said. In early January, DTC sleepwear and bedding brand Lilysilk also launched a recycling program with TerraCycle. The Lilysilk X TerraCycle Recycling Program allows customers to send silk and cashmere products to be recycled. Eligible items include bedding, sleepwear and women’s and men’s apparel. The program is only taking used Lilysilk products for now, but the company is considering expanding it to other brands. Wendy Zhang, marketing lead at Lilysilk, told Modern Retail that the brand realized it needed a partner to go about such a program. “Sustainability is not a one-man show, and it’s hard for one brand to take on,” Zhang said. It’s why the company sought out professional help to break down and recycle the material efficiently. “It doesn’t make a direct impact on our revenue, but we see it as an investment in what the brand stands for,” Zhang said. She added that founder David Wang decided to sign on for a three-year contract instead of testing TerraCycle for one year. Like Parade, product recycling is one part of Lilysilk’s sustainability goals, said Zhang. Lilysilk also tries to reduce waste during production by, for example, using t-shirt cut-offs to make silk accessories. To promote the TerraCycle program, Zhang said Lilysilk is working with its network of influencers. Lilysilk also plans to eventually install TerraCyle drop-off booths at offices and apartment complexes.

TerraCycle’s growing presence

TerraCycle’s Dominitz said the company has seen “an increased interest in our recycling solutions from every segment in the commercial chain.” This is due to the increased awareness around consumer product waste and the impact it has on the environment, Dominitz explained. Jenny Gyllander, founder of product reviews site Thingtesting, previously told Modern Retail that recycling and reselling used products are “positive first steps,” for brands to take to contribute less waste. “[Brands] should be responsible for the products that they put out into the world and think about the full life cycles of where they end up,” she said. But TerraCycle’s solutions also highlight the obstacles surrounding recycling — as evident by a now-settled recent lawsuit against TerraCycle over alleged opaque practices.   As TerraCycle grows, its pitch to both larger and smaller brands is that developing a cohesive recycling program helps companies achieve multiple goals. “This translates to more waste collected and recycled, a bigger positive impact and a better story for your [companies’] stakeholders,” Dominitz said.

Here’s What To Know About Recycling Your Running Shoes

Learn when it’s better to rehome your running shoes and when it’s best to let them take on a new life.
It probably won’t surprise you, a runner, a definite wearer of shoes, to learn that the shoe industry is massive (producing 24.2 billion pairs a year, massive). Also unsurprising is that with its size comes a monster amount of waste as consumers continue to buy and ditch pair after pair. The life cycle (from material processing, manufacturing, logistics, and eventual waste) is estimated to create 30 pounds of carbon emissions for each pair of running shoes. RELATED: Running Shoes are Part of an Environmental Crisis. Is Change Coming? Running brands aren’t oblivious to the problem and seem to grasp that runners are caring more and more about the environment, but aren’t willing to compromise on the quality of their footwear. In fact, that’s where a lot of the dissonance comes into play. To truly reduce the carbon footprint of the sneaker industry, runners need to one day rely on fewer, yet more durable shoes. But no shoe brand wants us to buy fewer shoes. Which means, it’s up to them to find another way. And this April, just in time for Earth Day, many brands are launching new (or beefing up old) footwear recycling and donating initiatives. on-running-cyclonOn’s Cyclon shoe is sold on a subscription basis, where consumers return and recycle the shoe and receive a new pair every five months or so. Photo: Courtesy On Running

Here Are 6 Brands That Will Recycle Your Kicks (And Socks)

Currently, 85 percent of textiles are not recycled, with the average person throwing away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles annually. In general, recycling shoes is a complex process and depending on the materials in the shoe it might not be possible. “Footwear is difficult to recycle because most shoes are made using multiple, mixed materials which are often stitched or glued together,” says Shaye DiPasquale a publicist for the recycler TerraCycle. “There is not a lot of physical recycling of footwear that goes on,” says Eric Stubin, president of Trans-Americas Textile Recycling. The majority of ‘recycled’ shoes and clothes are shipped places to be reused. Stubin’s company processes about 10 million pounds of post-consumer textile waste from clothing, shoes, and accessories every year. Take polyurethane foam, a material researchers from Northwestern University only recently figured out how to upcycle. “Polyurethane foam waste has historically been landfilled and burned or down-cycled for use in carpeting,” said William Dichtel, who co-led the research. “Our latest work effectively removes air from polyurethane foams and remolds them into any shape. This could pave the way for industry to begin recycling polyurethane foam waste for many relevant applications.” Polyurethane, which is sometimes used in the midsole of shoes does not melt even in extreme heat. Previously, it could only be shredded or compressed in ways that make the material not durable enough for other uses. In general, when clothing is recycled it tends to go to one of these four different end destinations:
  1. Reused and repurposed as secondhand clothing (45%)
  2. Recycled and converted into items like reclaimed wiping rags for industrial and residential use (30%)
  3. Recycled into post-consumer fiber for home insulation, carpet padding, and raw material for the automotive industry (20%)
  4. Landfills (5%)
Perhaps the most notable and lauded shoe recycling program is Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe, which is available at select Nike stores. Through the program any brand of athletic shoe is collected to be turned into a Nike Grind product—tracks, courts, walkways, and playground floors made from ground sneakers. Stubin considers the Nike Grind program to be the most “robust and viable program for footwear.” Earlier this month, the sandal company Teva announced its partnership with TerraCycle through a program it’s calling TevaForever. For no additional cost, customers who sign up receive a pre-paid shipping label to send their worn sandals to TerraCycle. Their goal is to also turn the used sandals into running tracks, playgrounds, and more. TerraCycle‘s footwear Zero Waste Box is an option that anyone can order and fill with shoes to be recycled. According to DiPasquale the shoes will either be manually or mechanically separated into fabrics, metals, fibers, organics, and plastics. The fabrics are reused, upcycled, or recycled. The metals are smelted for reuse elsewhere. Wood or paper fibers are recycled or composted. And the plastics are melted down and turned into pellets, flakes, or other usable formats to be molded into new products or packaging. But what if you could buy a shoe with a promise that it will be recycled, rather than looking for a solution on the back end? On, the Swiss shoe company has recently launched its Cyclon shoe subscription which promises to be a closed-loop system. For a fee of $29.99 per month you are delivered the shoes, made of castor beans. When the shoes reach the end of their life, you let On know and they will send you a new pair along with everything you need to ship the old pair back to be recycled into new products. Because of the concept, On was awarded the 2021 ISPO Product of the Year as well as a Sustainability Achievement award. And on Earth Day, Salomon will begin selling its Index.01 shoe in the U.S., which is already available in Europe. Like On’s concept, it promises to be a circular life-cycle shoe. As long as consumers send it back, partners of Salomon will recycle the TPU and polyester into raw materials for use in other products. In Europe specifically, the TPU will be recycled into Salomon ski boots. What about socks? An oft-forgotten item that is more than likely to end up in the landfill. Smartwool has just announced its new partnership with Material Return starting April 21. Like Nike Grind, this program involves collecting old socks (can be any brand or material, but must be clean) to be ground up and used in other products. This is your chance to get rid of those lonely single socks that, let’s be honest, won’t ever find their match. Find a donation center here.

4 Other Ways to Donate or Recycle Your Shoes

Donating your shoes so someone else can get use out of them is probably the best thing you can do with that old pair. Stubin’s biggest piece of advice when donating your shoes: Don’t judge your shoes too harshly. “A good pair of shoes, even if a runner deems them no longer useful, can likely find a second life,” he says. Even if the charity you donate to can’t re-sell the shoes to a consumer, they can still sell it to a recycler. “So if a Goodwill sells clothing to Trans-Americas, we pay them for that material. There’s a market price for that material,” says Stubin. Programs like One World Running and Soles4Souls (a popular choice among running stores) collect and distribute shoes and other clothing to people who need them. To date the Soles4Souls program has found second use for over 56 million pairs of shoes. Find a donation center near you here. Soles4Souls partners with a lot of other high profile donation programs. The North Face’s Clothes the Loop program, for example, will send your shoes to that recycling leader. [Editor’s Note: You can also join our Soles4Souls shoe drive! Get all the details here and help us put your old sneakers to good use.] Also announced this month, Nike will soon start accepting lightly worn, good condition shoes into its refurbished program for resale in 15 authorized stores. You can also check with your local running store to see if they offer any sort of similar takeback program. Extending the life of a garment by one year can reduce its carbon footprint by 25 percent, according to the Thredup fashion footprint calculator. “So footwear that lives on and finds a second life for two to three years, conceivably reduces the carbon,” says Stubin. Recycling vs. trashing shoes is only a small fraction of the problem. Most of the carbon emissions related to running shoes happens in the manufacturing process. At the end of the day, the best thing that can be done is to buy less and make the products we do own last longer. But, as with every environmentally charged movement, we have to start somewhere and demand forward progress and innovation, while doing our part as individuals.

Shop Our Editors' Favorite Sustainable Brands

No greenwashing here! These eco-conscious labels put the environment at the forefront of their businesses. In honor of Earth Day, check out what our favorite brands are doing to make a difference
By People Staff
April 16, 2021 12:13 PM
Products in this story are independently selected and featured editorially. If you make a purchase using these links we may earn commission.
2 of 20 Teva The sporty, heritage sandal company that's rooted in outdoor adventure and has evolved into a hypebeast favorite in recent years has committed to reducing its carbon footprint in a big way. In 2020, the straps across the entire footwear product line switched to a yarn made of recycled plastic. And this year the company partnered with TerraCycle on its new TevaForever Recycling program, which encourages Teva customers to mail in their retired sandals to TerraCycle at no cost. The shoes will then be deconstructed by manufacturers to make a number of new products including playgrounds, athletic fields and track ground cover, according to the brand. Curious to learn morn? Check out actress Rosario Dawson's take on the recycling program. Spoiler: She's pumped! Buy it! Teva Original Universal Sandal, $50; teva.com

How 5 companies are tackling issues with sustainable packaging this year

From changing how products are shipped to what containers they're sold in and the product packaging itself, here's how retailers are tackling a myriad of issues. Cara Salpini   Permission granted by Loop As retail, a fundamentally environmentally unfriendly industry, works to become more green, it faces challenges at every turn. Those include that products must be packaged somehow, and then if a consumer buys online, those packaged goods must be placed in another package to safeguard them through whatever shipping route they're on. But as more consumers demand sustainability from the brands they buy from, startups are launching to solve common challenges and retailers are reinventing aspects of their operations to better account for their impact on the environment. Not all are tackling sustainability to the same degree, though, or with the same amount of success. Some companies are "just riding the bandwagon on sustainability and saying, 'Okay, we're doing this, we're doing XYZ,' but not necessarily tying that to what the impact means, and what kind of results that action will yield," Jessica Ching, senior principal analyst at Gartner, said. Brands that have more serious commitments to sustainability spell out the impact of their actions, Ching said, like the amount of carbon emissions it takes to make a product or how many were saved from a different type of production, for example. Rather than simply announcing commitments, dedicated brands also educate consumers about those commitments and what they really mean, rather than leaving it up to consumers to do the hard work themselves. When it comes to shipping, for example, some brands offer incentives for slower delivery, according to Ching, though communicating with customers on the impact of their shipping and packaging choices is still not widely done. "I think it's a clear opportunity there for brands and retailers to lean on. We haven't seen it as much yet," Ching said. She noted grocery delivery service Ocado is an example of a company playing around with this, as consumers can select "greener" delivery slots when they're in the checkout process. Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of Terracycle and Loop, is coming at the problem from a different angle. Loop, which makes refillable packaging for products, sends consumers their orders in reusable shipping containers and schedules pick-up times based on factors like when a consumer is scheduled to get another shipment, rather than making an extra trip. The company is also setting up a network of retail partners that use its refillable packaging so that consumers can return their empty containers themselves to any retailer in Loop's system. Looking long-term, Szaky thinks retailers' focus with packaging will be on increasing the recyclability of packages, more advancement on reuse (like what Loop is doing) and how to sell products with no packaging at all. But whatever advancements come, the challenge will be making sustainable choices as convenient as a consumer's current product choices. "Whatever innovations come, they have to compete head-to-head with the convenience of disposability," Szaky said. "And the closer they feel to the convenience of disposability, or in an ideal world even better, that's going to be the winner. I would predict that in reuse, you're not going to see a mega scale up of refill stations because of the sheer cost and complexity of doing filling at a store level. Now some products, it will work, like dry cashews or gummy bears or ground coffee and whole bean coffee, but I don't think it's going to necessarily get significantly broader than that. Because how would you do insect repellent in a refill station or ice cream in a refill station or things of that nature?" That's the reason Loop's model relies on the company being responsible for cleaning empty bottles and putting them back into circulation, rather than the consumer doing that work. In Szaky's view, taking the work out of it will get more consumers to make the sustainable choice. There are tons of ways retailers are experimenting with more environmentally friendly packaging and shipping choices, but here are a few recent ones Retail Dive is watching.

1. Olive's attempts to consolidate e-commerce deliveries

Olive, launched earlier this year by Jet co-founder Nate Faust, is tackling sustainable shipping by consolidating consumers' e-commerce deliveries from multiple brands into one to cut down on single-use boxes. The company boasts hundreds of e-commerce sites for retailers to purchase from, including Adidas, Free People and Saks Fifth Avenue, among others. The company also handles returns, and retailers can schedule a pickup of either their empty, reusable shipping container or their returns. Olive and Loop are both third-party companies trying to solve shipping problems by partnering with retailers, but some individual brands and retailers are also making strides on their own platforms. "I think it's incumbent on brands and retailers to really make sure that they can do what they can," Ching said. "We have also seen a lot of brands give the option at checkout for consumers to opt into eco-friendly packaging, or taking kind of a multifunctional approach to packaging." Ching cited Ralph Lauren as one company that allows customers to check a box to receive eco-friendly packaging, for example. Apparel retailers, in particular, can also do their part through pre-order, rental and resale models, Ching noted, so that they cut down on creating excess products altogether and have a second life for them when they do.

2. Ulta's partnership with Loop on refillable packaging

Ulta's partnership with Loop is part of broader efforts on sustainability at the retailer Permission granted by Loop   In addition to several other retail partnerships, Loop in March officially launched at Ulta Beauty, marking the "first-ever circular beauty platform," according to a release on the partnership. For Ulta, the Loop partnership was one of several recently announced moves to tackle sustainability. While Ulta is not the only company Loop has partnered with, beauty is an especially interesting category to Szaky for several reasons. He noted there are more beauty products that can't be recycled than food or beverage products, and there's a higher range of complexity involved in the packaging of beauty products. But it also meets several other criteria Loop looks at when deciding which areas to focus on. "One is how quickly does the object become waste from the moment you purchase it? So a coffee cup is quick, while a Swiss watch will be very slow, right?" Szaky said, adding that "how often an item is purchased is actually not that important. The second is how much design improvement opportunity is there: so if you move a shampoo bottle, like a plastic bottle, into a reusable one, there's actually a massive, massive opportunity for design improvement." The third factor is if there are stakeholders involved that care about the category. Those factors have helped define Loop's priorities, which include fast-moving consumer goods (packaged food, beverages, home care and personal care), takeaway food packaging and then textiles ("everything from reusable diapers to baby clothing"). The Ulta partnership is starting small, but plans are to expand it over time. At the moment, consumers can only use Loop's online experience, which means Loop has to come pick up used containers from consumers, but Szaky says the in-store experience should be running by the end of the year or early next. Then, consumers can bring back empty containers and drop them off at a bin in the front of the store or at any other of Loop's retail partners whenever they come back to shop. Spreading out to more retailers also lessens the transportation load, leading to fewer carbon emissions. "The way we're solving that is trying to again make Loop for absolutely everything so that you can get high density of products in one geography," Szaky said. "So instead, if we only did it for shampoo, you would have a very spread out network. But if we're doing it for everything from hamburgers and french fries, all the way to soda to shampoo to personal care products, then you get much bigger density and have more cleaning facilities and less transportation distance." Szaky's other company, TerraCycle, which focuses on recycling, is also expanding its presence through partnerships with the likes of sandal brand Teva and department store Nordstrom. The company's partnership with Nordstrom is also focused on beauty; it allows customers to recycle beauty packaging at Nordstrom stores.

3. Cocokind's debut of 'Sustainability Facts' on beauty products

Carbon emissions will be displayed directly on the packaging of Cocokind's products Permission granted by Cocokind   Beauty brand Cocokind announced in March that it would start putting "Sustainability Facts" on the packaging of its products to make the carbon impact of products clearer. The company already uses materials like sugarcane tubes and ocean waste plastic in its packaging, and includes detailed recycling instructions with products, according to Cocokind founder Priscilla Tsai. To produce the sustainability facts, the company uses a third-party research firm that evaluates the carbon footprint of every product, from pre-production to end-of-life. The life cycle assessment takes into account pre-manufacturing, including the production of raw materials and transportation of materials to the manufacturer; production, including any waste; distribution, including freight and materials used to transport products; and end-of-life, which includes the energy to recycle, reuse or dispose of a product. The total carbon emissions are listed on the packaging, though Tsai says the company does not expect consumers to exactly know the difference between different amounts of emissions. "We set out to educate our customers and beauty consumers in general on this topic," Tsai said via email. "It should not be on the consumer to figure all of this out because it can be so confusing and daunting. When it comes to carbon emissions we are even learning more ourselves and hope that our work will make a difference in how the consumer understands carbon emissions." Cocokind is also trying to educate customers on what its sustainability efforts mean Permission granted by Cocokind Cocokind is simultaneously attempting to educate its consumers on what these changes mean via blog and social media posts on the initiative and plans to share more learnings as the company continues to learn itself. Tsai added that this packaging shift is part of just the first phase of Cocokind's approach to carbon emissions, which is focused on researching and measuring the company's current impact. In the future, the company will move to offset emissions and create tangible action steps annually to reduce emissions. "While the beauty industry has made so many improvements over the past few years, we noticed that there also seems to be an increasing confusion on what is real progress and what is just an empty claim," Tsai said. "Every beauty brand, including cocokind, has been guilty of using buzz words like 'clean' and 'sustainable' without doing the work."

4. Beyond the Bag's efforts to replace single-use plastic

In July 2020, The Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag was formed, with CVS, Target and Walmart making up the founding partners. The retailers' goal is to reinvent the plastic bag through a three-year program, dubbed Beyond the Bag, that identifies alternatives through a contest, and works to scale them. The three founding companies put $15 million into the initiative collectively and have since been joined by a host of other big names in retail, including Dick's Sporting Goods, Dollar General, TJX and Walgreens. In February, the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners announced nine winners of the challenge, out of 450 ideas submitted: ChicoBag, Domtar, Eon, Fill it Forward, Goatote, PlasticFri, Returnity, SmartC and Sway. The companies span a variety of solutions to single-use plastic bags, including reusable shipping bags and boxes, a kiosk system that allows customers to access clean reusable bags on-site, a borrowing service for reusable bags, and various material innovations, including making plastic bag alternatives out of seaweed. Each of the nine companies will receive "a portion of $1 million," including possible additional financing as they work to pilot and scale their solutions. The retailers in the consortium will spend 2021 helping the winners with prototyping, mentoring and moving toward in-store pilots. "There is no one-size-fits-all solution to tackle a problem as complex as our reliance on single-use plastic bags," Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, said in a statement. "The diversity of our winners underscores how businesses and consumers alike need to employ a range of solutions to fit different geographic, social and economic contexts."

5. Schick's fully recyclable razorSchick in March announced the Schick Xtreme 3 Eco Glide, which it says is the first and only razor on the mass market to be fully recyclable, including the razor and the packaging. Natalya Utesheva, senior brand manager at Schick, said the process for creating the Eco Glide razor started about a year and a half ago.

Reaching the 100% recycled plastic mark was a challenge for Schick Permission granted by Schick "Disposable razors are made from plastic, which by definition means that a lot of plastic ends up getting thrown away," Utesheva said, "so we were just so excited to innovate and to bring something to the consumer that is still an amazing shave from a quality perspective — it has flexible blades, it's got really amazing glide — but without the guilt for the environment because it's made from 100% recycled plastic." To realize the dream, Schick had to work with suppliers to find recycled plastic durable enough to mold into the right shape for a handle, according to Utesheva. It's "extremely challenging" to reach the 100% post-consumer recycled plastic mark, Utesheva said. "It's much easier, from what I understand from our supply chain partners, to have a mixture. So like, 60% to 80% of the plastic is made from recycled materials and then the rest is virgin plastic because the virgin, of course, is stronger. But the 100% is no small feat to achieve, which is why we're so proud of it." In addition to the fully recyclable Eco Glide, every Schick Xtreme razor now has a handle made at least in part with post-consumer recycled plastic, Utesheva said, with the company planning to increase the percentage of post-consumer recycled plastic over the years. The fully recyclable Eco Glide costs a little more than its regular razors, but about half of Schick's customers are what Utesheva calls "eco-considerers," which means they are willing to compromise a little bit or pay a little more to have sustainability baked into the product. The other half, however, are "eco-dismissers," who aren't willing to sacrifice convenience in any way, no matter the environmental impact. Parent company Edgewell is looking for other ways to solve for packaging as well, including launching an Edgewell Recycling program earlier this year, which gives customers a shipping label and allows them to recycle products for free.

This man is on a mission to recycle everything in your life

Have you ever felt guilty about tossing your old Teva sandals, or Colgate toothbrush, or Etch A Sketch into the trash, where they will clog up a landfill for hundreds of years? I have good news for you. All of those items—and many more—are now recyclable thanks to TerraCycle, a company that can recycle just about anything, especially items that can’t be processed by municipal facilities.   When the company launched in 2001, eliminating waste wasn’t something the average consumer cared about, but two decades later, environmentalism has gone mainstream, and that’s been good for TerraCycle’s business. Over the past five years, TerraCycle has grown explosively thanks to partnerships with brands that pay the company to collect and recycle customers’ old products. Today, more than 500 brands have signed up, a tenfold increase from 2016. In 2020, TerraCycle generated upward of $50 million in revenue across 20 countries and grew its staff by 33% to 380 employees globally.   TerraCycle’s remarkable growth tells a larger story about the progress the world is making toward a circular economy–a more sustainable system in which companies stop extracting raw materials from the earth and instead recycle products that already exist. While brands and consumers are eager to keep things out of landfill, there are still big challenges ahead in the war on waste. Who should bear the cost of recycling? And what will it really take to recycle a complex object, like a shoe or an Etch a Sketch, back into its original form? [Photo: TerraCycle]   A WORLD WITH NO WASTE   Tom Szaky launched TerraCycle as a 19-year-old Princeton student. The company began as a humble side hustle: transforming food waste into high-quality fertilizer with the help of worms. In college, he emptied his bank account to build a “worm poop conversion unit” and spent his free time shoveling decomposing food from Princeton’s cafeterias. Two years later, he dropped out to pursue the business full-time, selling the fertilizer he created to Home Depot and Walmart.   Spending every waking hour of his twenties thinking about waste helped Szaky grasp the full extent of the global problem—long before many Americans had woken up to the crisis. He realized that food is just the tip of the iceberg: The real—and trickier—issue is plastic, a cheap, versatile material that companies use in everything from food wrappers to furniture. Since plastic does not biodegrade, it ends up in landfills and oceans, where it breaks into tiny fragments and enters the food chain.   Curbside recycling programs launched in the 1970s, but they have always been limited in the plastic products they accept; most only collect simple objects made from a single form of plastic, like takeout containers. Everything else ends up in the landfill because it’s made from multiple materials that are complex and labor-intensive to separate. A high chair, for instance, uses metal bolts and screws to connect different plastic pieces together.   As Szaky looked into the problem, he discovered that it is technically possible to recycle any of these objects. The problem is that recycling infrastructure is not set up to tackle this. Cities pay waste management companies to pick up and recycle materials, which they then sell on the commodities market. If a product is too expensive to break down, recyclers won’t make a profit on it. “We perceive that recycling companies are out there recycling whatever they can recycle out of a moral obligation,” he says. “The reality is that recycling companies are for-profit enterprises and they are only going to process what they can recycle at a profit. If an object costs more to collect and recycle than the ensuing materials are worth, they won’t do it.”   So Szaky decided he needed to create a new business model for recycling. He would build the infrastructure to recycle all kinds of objects and ask companies making these products to bear the cost of recycling them. “We asked ourselves, ‘Is there a stakeholder, like a manufacturer or a retailer or a consumer or someone who is willing to cover what it really costs to collect it and process it?'” he says. “With this business philosophy, we can unlock the ability to recycle just about everything.” [Photo: TerraCycle]   WHO SHOULD PAY FOR RECYCLING?   The idea of asking companies or individuals to pay to recycle their own waste seemed crazy two decades ago. But Szaky has observed how people around the world have begun to realize that waste has real costs.   This awareness reached a tipping point in 2018, when a video of a turtle with a straw up its nose went viral, prompting consumers to call for cities to ban straws and other single-use plastics. The following year, National Geographic devoted an issue of the magazine to the problem of plastic waste which circulated widely; brands like Everlane and Adidas began swapping out new plastic for recycled plastic in their products; and new research emerged about how microscopic pieces of plastic end up in our food and water, damaging our bodies.   [Image: courtesy Teva]Szaky first asked brands to sponsor recycling efforts in 2007, when Honest Tea, Stonyfield Farm, and Clif Bar paid Terracycle to set up collection centers for consumers to drop off used food packaging from their brands, which it would recycle. It wasn’t until 2015 that big brands created ongoing programs, like Bausch + Lomb with contact lenses and Target with baby car seats. Some turned their recycling efforts into marketing: In 2017, Right Guard and L’Oreal launched playgrounds and gyms made from recycled products with great fanfare.   This paved the way for the current moment, when many brands feel pressure to take responsibility for some of their waste—or risk alienating consumers who are highly conscious about sustainability. This is why Teva, maker of iconic outdoor sandals, proactively reached out to Terracycle to collect used shoes and transform them into new products. “There is a cost for generating waste without regard for the environment,” says Anders Bergstrom, Teva’s global GM. “It’s a stiff financial penalty that is coming on the backs of young consumers who are seeking out sustainable brands. This is a new reality that I believe many enterprises are going to face in the future. ” [Illustration: Teva] As of last week, customers can go to Teva’s website to download a free, prepaid shipping label to send their old sandals to TerraCycle. To keep the carbon footprint of this shipping low, TerraCycle uses a network of its own recycling center as well as third-party recycling plants, and sends products to the nearest facility. Bergstrom says that Teva will pay for the entire cost of shipping, sorting, and processing, but declined to say exactly how much it will come to, partly because it depends on how many customers send their shoes in. Financial documents reveal that the lion’s share of TerraCycle’s revenues come from these brand partnerships.   Szaky says that each new partnership involves developing new systems for collecting, cleaning, and separating products into their core components. Then, the materials go through the company’s existing machinery: Metals are melted, and plastics are shredded, melted, and extruded into pellets. TerraCycle then sells these recycled materials. The plastic from Teva sandals will be used to make playgrounds, athletic fields, and track ground cover. [Photo: Century]   In early April, a brand called Century became the first baby gear company to partner with TerraCycle to recycle car seats, strollers, high chairs, and play pens. Betsy Holman, manager at Newell Brands which owns Century, says the brand is specifically targeted at millennial and Gen Z parents, and initial focus groups with this demographic revealed the sustainability was a crucial factor in their buying decisions.   Holman’s team had to price the cost of recycling into the bottom line. Given how bulky and heavy the products are, paying to ship products to TerraCycle is expensive. “The cost of recycling is hitting us just like any other cost,” she says. “TerraCycle was definitely a hit to our profit and our margin is definitely not as attractive, but we felt that this was the right call for the brand. Our goal is to be the sustainable baby brand.” [Photo: TerraCycle]   THE DREAM OF CIRCULARITY   TerraCycle is growing quickly thanks to new partnerships. Nordstrom announced that starting October 1, consumers can bring in any beauty product packaging into stores to be recycled. Startups—from sneaker brand Thousand Fell to reusable silicone baggie brand Stasher—invite customers to download prepaid labels to send in their old products. Heritage conglomerate, Spin Master, which makes Etch A Sketch, Rubik’s Cube, and Hatchimals just announced customers can send in any toys it manufactures. [Photo: TerraCycle]   While Szaky is thrilled that business is picking up, he believes there’s a lot of work to do. TerraCycle has still not created a fully circular system, in which a product can be infinitely recycled into that same product. For instance, Teva sandals can’t be turned back into sandals, which means the brand will continue to rely on new materials to make their products. “The most exciting thing we’re working on is how to get the material back to where it began,” Szaky says. “This is the highest and very best use of the materials.”   This is a complicated process, as Thousand Fell is discovering. Cofounder Stuart Ahlum worked closely with Szaky to design sneakers made from just a few materials that would be easy to recycle. Over the past year, the company has begun receiving used sneakers from customers, which TerraCycle processes. But to be fully circular, Thousand Fell must collect the recycled rubber and plastic, and send them to its various suppliers. “Like most brands, we have a global supply chain, which means we have to send these recycled materials around the world,” Ahlum says. “In some cases, we have to think about whether the emissions created from shipping outweigh the benefits of creating a fully circular system.”   At just shy of 40, Szaky has come a long way from shoveling Princeton cafeteria food into a worm poop conversion unit. He’s hopeful about what he has seen over the past two decades. When he started TerraCycle, few people understood his mission. Today, values have shifted and his business is booming.   “We’re in the middle of a mass extinction and it’s entirely because we’re not paying the bill for the waste we’re creating,” he says. “We’re essentially using all of these resources on credit, expecting our children, animals, and the planet to pay for it in the future. But consumers are crying out for change, which is prompting lawmakers and companies to rethink the way we’re doing things. The future they want is circular, and they’re going to vote for it with what they buy.”   ABOUT THE AUTHOR Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a senior staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

These Companies Are Saving the Planet with Easy Recycling Programs

Earth Day is Thurs. Apr. 22 this year and if you’re looking for easy ways to show our planet some love, you’ve come to the right place. While topics like climate change may seem overwhelming, everyone can do their part by something as simple as recycling. To make turning trash into treasure as easy as can be, lots of family-friendly companies have partnered with Terracycle, a social enterprise currently in 21 countries that is diverting tons of waste away from landfills. Keep scrolling to see how you can be a part of this movement with brands you already use!

Once Upon a Farm

  All those baby food, smoothies and applesauces pouches an be easily recycled with Terracycle. Clean them out, dry them off and ship off so they can be sorted and pelletized––ready for a new life. image.png


  Food pouches are super convenient, especially for on the go, but they add up quickly. If you're at a loss for what to do with them, head to Terracycle to snag a printable label! Add it to a box of used pouches, ship and repeat. image.png


  Tired of storing old games and toys? Recycle them! Hasbro's recycling program takes your kiddos old My Little Pony, Play-Doh, GI Joe and more and transforms them into things like play spaces, park benches and flower pots so they can continue to bring joy. image.png

Honest Drink Pouch

  Kiddos love their juice! Rather than tossing in the trash, save up the aluminum and plastic pouches (you can even keep the straws!) for recycling. Make sure the pouches are empty before shipping. When they are received, they'll be melted into hard plastic so they can be reshaped into something new again.

Spin Master

  The new Spin Master Recycling Program gives a second life to your toys. All you have to do is sign up on the TerraCycle program page and mail in your old toys. Your old toys will be cleaned and melted into hard plastic so they can have a new lease on life by being made into items like park benches and picnic tables. image.png


  There are tons of Gerber products you can recycle, like baby food packaging (but no glass!), shrink labels, plastic containers, plastic lids, flexible plastic pouches and small and large hook Gerber baby clothing hangers. Once you have a full box of products, just send in with a free label and your products will be recycled free of charge. image.png

L.O.L. Surprise!

  L.O.L. Surprise! dolls are super fun, but they come with a ton of wrapping! Now you don't have to wonder what to do with it all. Just pack it up and ship to Terracycle and they'll do the rest.


  Don't toss those old toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes into the trash! Check out the simple programs from Terracycle where you can drop off in person or mail in so those old products don't end up in a landfill. image.png



Carter's has recently partnered with Terracycle to bring you Kidcycle, a way to recycle old baby and kids clothes. Not only can you send them in or drop off for free, but all your packages can even earn you Rewarding Moments points, too!


Target Car Seat Trade In

  A few times a year Target's car seat trade-in keeps millions of pounds of plastic from landfills. All you have to do is drop off your old seat at a participating Target location, get a coupon and rest easy that you're saving the planet, one seat at a time.


  We mamas have tons of products that could end up in the trash––or get recycled! Nordstrom's BEAUTYCYCLE program takes packaging from haircare, skincare, makeup and more so it doesn't head to a landfill. You can help them reach their goal of recycling 100 tons of packaging!


  Stasher bags already keeps tons of waste out of landfills, but even they don't last forever. When you send them in for recycling, they'll be. cleaned and ground into a crumb-like powder which is used for playground, athletic field or track ground cover.


  Send your beloved Teva sandals on one last adventure through TevaForever. The recycling program turns them into melted hard plastic so they can go on to live in athletic and playground tracks.

VTech & LeapFrog

  When your little has outgrown their fave learning or electronic toy, recycle it! The free program will melt down your old toys and transform them into materials used in new playground and park equipment.

Teva launches recycling program with TerraCycle

Footwear brand Teva has announced a new recycling program that allows customers to mail in their used sandals, diverting them from landfills. The TevaForever program partners with TerraCycle, a US-based recycling company, to recycle pre-owned sandals at no cost to the customer, allowing the sandals to be turned into something new, reducing environmental impact, and keeping waste out of landfills. Customers can visit Teva online to sign up and download a prepaid shipping label to mail in their sandals to TerraCycle. Once at the recycling center, the shoes will be cleaned and the materials separated. After the sandals have been broken down and processed, the new material will be used by manufacturers to build playgrounds, athletic fields, and track ground covers. “The partnership with TerraCycle is a huge step forward in our ongoing commitment to minimize our brand’s environmental impact. The TevaForever recycling program gives our fans an easy way to join the cause, knowing we will give their sandals new life,” stated Anders Bergstrom, vice president, and general manager of Teva, in a release. Furthering Teva’s sustainability efforts, the brand stated it had saved over 40.2 million plastic bottles from landfills in 2020 alone by creating shoe straps made from 100 percent of recycled plastic through a unique yarn called Repreve. Teva stated its long-term vision is to work towards solutions to one day fully close the loop by recycling old Teva sandals into new ones.

Teva Partners With TerraCycle to Create ‘Forever’ Shoe Recycling Program

n 2020, Teva transitioned every one of its sandal straps to 100% traceable REPREVE recycled plastic yarn. Building on that vision of keeping its sandals sustainable, Teva has announced its TevaForever Recycling Program, a partnership with international recycling guru TerraCycle.   “Teva’s long-term vision is to work towards solutions to one day fully close the loop by recycling old Teva sandals into new ones,” Teva wrote. The program is dedicated to giving Teva sandals a second life — as something other than sandals.   Customers will be able to mail in their retired sandals to TerraCycle (at no cost). TerraCycle will then clean them, break them down, and process the recycled materials for many new purposes (like playground surfaces, athletic fields, and track grounds).    
  1. Visit Teva.com to request a prepaid shipping label.
  2. Ship in your Teva sandals or flip-flops.
  3. That’s it. TerraCycle and Teva will take care of the rest.
  One note: Teva doesn’t yet accept shoe or boot models for recycling but hopes to do so in the future.   “Teva sandal owners can now take comfort in knowing that when their favorite pair of sandals finally wears out, they won’t experience any of the guilt that comes with throwing them away,” TerraCycle founder Tom Szaky said.