TerraCycle is part of New Zealand’s disruptive circular economy and it’s taken charge of recycling the waste that other agencies deem unsavoury or difficult to recycle or that can’t be disposed of through local council municipal bins.
Through pioneering greater access to recycling for New Zealand businesses and households TerraCycle’s goal is to end the idea of waste through creating a market for it to be recycled into new products.
The company, which can dispose of anything from coffee capsules, oral care waste and yoghurt pouches, has developed a free volunteer recycling system known as Brigades, that includes NZ Post (which handles the shipping of waste products to TerraCycle), as part of a product stewardship scheme.
Ausseela Thanaphongsakorn, manager of communications and strategic partnerships at TerraCycle, says this is only the beginning for TerraCycle. “The vision is to scale up our waste collections, phasing out the need for landfill and incineration, by becoming a recognisable solution.”
Recycling and community go hand in hand with TerraCycle and the company, initially founded in the USA, has strong social sustainability programmes.
To date the Brigades in New Zealand have achieved:
People collecting rubbish: 31,866
Waste units collected: 139,722
Money for charity: $2,575.55
“We hope to provide a sustainable option for major plastic companies and manufacturers to consider the commercial and environmental viability of recycled plastics,” Ausseela says.
Further to the rubbish collection and charity donations, TerraCycle is empowering young people with a school community approach to recycling, educating on the importance of waste management and giving young people the tools to make positive waste decisions.
“We recently launched an oral care community recycle drive with NZ schools and our partner, Colgate, offered a prize pool of $32,500 to the top collecting schools as a reward to their commitment to recycling,” says Ausseela.
TerraCycle’s community and recycling initiatives are built on a strong company culture that Ausseela says is critical to the way the company operates.
“It’s important that our space represents our goal of ‘eliminating the idea of waste’. Our offices are all ‘trashed’, which means we upcycle our offices or use second hand items. For example a door propped on wine barrels becomes a desk and the main boardroom is lined with soda bottle room-divider.”
TerraCycle’s programmes can be accessed from anywhere in the country and are completely free to partake in.
“TerraCycle is in a constant drive for innovation with plans for expanding the range of waste streams by proactively approaching industry. One of our latest industry partnerships means any yoghurt pouch can now be recycled instead of ending up in landfill. TerraCycle believes that anything can and should be recycled, from chewing gum to feminine hygiene products and even nappies!”