TerraCycle is a US-based private recycling business that has its headquarters in Trenton, New Jersey. Primarily TerraCycle runs a volunteer-based recycling platform of pre and post-consumer waste.
They accept this waste on behalf of municipalities and corporate donors and then turn the waste into new usable products.
Now TerraCycle has been in the recycling business for a long time and has been popular since 2001. Founded by Tom Szaky, this venture is now in more than 21 countries worldwide.
As an individual, you can also send in your recyclable via mail. The main reason to have brand-sponsored recycling programs is to let the brands take responsibility for their products and packaging.
It means that usually, we see that companies make a product, sell it, and then they are done. With this recycling responsibility, companies have to make sure that they are making waste-free products and if not, then take care of what happens to the product after selling.
This is a form of accountability which is named as “Polluter Pays Principle” according to international law. This law is not just limited to plastic but all sorts of waste.
So according to PPP, companies can’t just simply dump the waste into oceans or landfills like that.
With TerraCycle what’s different is that brands have to pay for the plastic they have produced through the brand-sponsored programs.
How Does It Work?
TerraCycle first assesses the product that needs to be recycled whether it needs recycling or if any other way of recycling is needed. If the product or materials can be recycled then the sponsored company pays the pre-paid shipping labels.
The company’s customers then send the package and the sponsored company pays TerraCycle to process the products.
How much the brands have to pay to TerraCycle has not been revealed but it is certainly less as the brands don’t switch to waste-free production.
Is TerraCycle Greenwashing?
If you want to find out about a brand or a recycling venture whether it is greenwashing or not, always look in the details. Greenwashing means that a brand is trying to look eco-friendly but is not even close to it.
Some companies are not very responsive to such questions which makes them fraudulent. As for TerraCycle, the company is very responsive and has claimed to be eco-friendly and true to waste recycling.
Although recently, TerraCycle was sued by an NGO for greenwashing and the internet has mixed reviews about it.
Is it legit? Well yes, TerraCycle is legit and it does recycle waste products. But you would also find reviews that say that this company helps brands to pretend that they are green-friendly whereas they are not.
TerraCycle’s mission is to eliminate waste from everywhere. Now as they are a recycling company, just doing that won’t really eliminate waste. Recycling could be one of the solutions but definitely not something we only need.
So brands recycle their products and packaging through this and still look good. They never switch environmentally friendly alternatives but rather get better plastic packaging. This way the loop never breaks and we get to experience very less waste-free products.
How To Sign Up For TerraCycle?
First, you create an account on TerraCycle from the US or any country you are from. Then you sign up for the program you want to use. Lastly, you print out the labels of the products you want to recycle and mail them to the recycling company.
There are several programs that you would see once you sign up. Each program here accepts different packaging and brands’ labels. So you would be sending a lot of mails here once you really want to go for it.
Well, you might think it is as simple as mentioned above once you decide to recycle. At TerraCycle, you actually have a waiting list for even signing up for the programs.
It can take up to months for you to get in and then get a shipping label. So you might want to sign up for different programs right now as it is gonna take a long time.
In areas where people have curbside recycling methods and almost nothing efficient, this waiting process is not ideal.
When you hear news about TerraCycle, what we fail to see is the less use of plastic being encouraged during the production process. And if recycling is compulsory and a last resort, it should be made easy and accessible for people.
What Is Zero-Waste Box & Its Use?
To actually send the products and packaging you want to recycle, you get a Zero-Waste box for that. First, you buy the box, put the recyclables into it, and then you mail it to the recycling company.
The big drawback here is the pricing of this box. The price could range from $80 to $459 depending on what you want to put in them and how big you want them. This really puts people off as the boxes can actually sometimes cost more than the recyclable product.
We should be more open to spending on sustainable products but 500 dollars for boxes is still a bit extravagant.
Setting up good recycling ventures is also expensive so most of the cities won’t also do it.
TerraCycle is very expensive if you want to take the recycling initiative here. It can always make you reconsider your thought of recycling in the first place.
But once you start getting into the details of the recycling business, you realize that it is complicated. It is expensive because someone is paying for it and you think that there is even any point to it.
The goal should be to make sustainable products and packaging in the first place so that we can reduce waste. The results of such practice would be efficient and long-term for our planet.