No Time To Waste

Nearly every product can be made recyclable if the motivation is there, explains Terracycle’s Tom Szaky, a Signal 2017 speaker and ongoing P&G partner.

April 8, 2020

Few argue that the planet needs our help. Twenty-five percent of consumers’ waste ends up in the oceans today. At Signal 2017, Terracycle CEO Tom Szaky explained why that’s an untenable situation. While people do recycle, they don’t do so enough. Only two percent of waste is recycled, worldwide; the rest we burn, bury, or worse.

Manufacturers often want to do the right thing, Szaky said. They can make packaging recyclable, at least to a point. And the brands have motivation to do so, for marketing optics if nothing else. If your products or packaging are “recyclable,” more consumers will purchase them. The only question is whether they actually will recycle the item.

“The issue is not recyclability,” Szaky said. “It’s that the consumer owns the package.”

To that end, TerraCycle works with companies to help their consumers drop off home care waste – and give them motivation to do so. In the 2017 video, he explains how it works.

Working with TerraCycle back in 2017, Head & Shoulders began manufacturing its bottles from beach waste plastic. Since then, TerraCycle has been active in other recycling programs that encourage and motivate consumers to participate –with significant benefits. Among them:

  • Herbal Essences now has special packaging for its dry shampoo that includes convenient, pre-paid shipping labels.
  • Gillette is launching a recycling contest in the U.S. in conjunction with CVS. Whichever state achieves the top marks for recycling wins an outdoor gym for a veteran’s charity, manufactured from recycled razors.
  • An Amsterdam pilot proves you can even recycle diapers. Pampers has launched a program in the Dutch city with 400 families, collecting more than 100,000 diapers so far. The consumer uses a mobile app to find a location where they can drop off dirty diapers, and earns rewards for sending back waste.

“Sustainability happens when the money makes sense,” said Szaky. “Everything can be recycled; it’s a question of economics.”

Watch the video to learn more about TerraCycle’s business model, and how it’s contributing to sustainability around the world.