by Kate Hehyoe
I’ve always thought the typical process of plastic recycling was more labor and resource intensive than it needs to be. Apparently, some brilliant students at Princeton thought the same thing and in 2001 launched a poster-child for zero-carbon eco-businesses, known as TerraCycle.
Essentially, they pay consumers and school groups for used bottles or other containers, repurposing the containers without breaking them down. They fill plastic soda bottles, for instance, with natural worm-enhanced fertilizer, stick a colorful sleeve over the bottle as a label, and sell the products online and at stores as diverse as Home Depot, Gardener’s Supply and Whole Foods.
They’ve totally nailed the business dynamics down: they’re truly eco-friendly, low-impact and low-cost, true recyclers, and their inventory has expanded to include rain barrels and composters made from oak wine casks; fashion bags, totes and backpacks from drink pouches; spray cleaners, bird feeders, and deer repellent (again in plastic soda bottles); and potting soil, seed starters, and tomato food, all happy and active with “worm poop” generated from organic waste.
The backstory behind the business is too cool to pass up (the guys won a million dollar business contest, but turned the prize down because they didn’t like the constraints it came with.) Check out Tom Szaky and Jon Beyer’s story in the video at TerraCycle’s website. And we’re big fans: The Global Gourmet’s garden blooms big and happy with TerraCycle Plant Food.