While most of his peers were at the library, or the bar, college freshmen Tom Szaky was busy launching a business out of his dorm room. For his first product he turned worm-poop into fertilizer as a way to transform waste into something useful. Since then he’s turned that first product into a multi-million dollar business Terracycle, with clients including Walmart and Home Depot. Inspiyr spoke with Tom about the mission of Terracycle, his favorite type of trash, and some advice for budding entrepreneurs or anyone looking to achieve their dreams.
Tell us about Terracycle. What’s the mission and how did it all begin?
Terracycle started about nine years ago. What we do is try to make things that are not recyclable, recyclable. That’s everything from a potato chip bag to a cigarette butt, chewing gum, used diapers, pens, juice pouches, oral care waste etc. The way we do that is we create national collection and solution programs for these types of waste.
Terracycle operates in twenty two countries around the world and in any of these countries you can go to the Terracycle website, choose the type of waste you want to collect, and we then provide you with free shipping and give a $.02 donation (or the equivalent in your local currency) to any school or charity of your choice for every piece of garbage collected.
We take the collected waste and do one of three things; first, we can reuse it, which makes up one percent of our waste and includes refurbishing electronics or shoes and apparel. Second, we can upcycle it, which makes up four percent of our waste and includes turning a juice-pack into a backpack. Third, we can recycle it, which accounts for ninety five percent of our waste and includes melting toothbrushes into a cup.
We’ve found that every type of garbage in the world, as long as its collected, can be reused, upcycled or recycled. That allows us to take everything that was previously not recycleable and recycle it.
Our story is a classic startup story; I started Terracycle in a dormroom while I was going to Princeton, then dropped out of school and built it into where we are today; over a hundred employees in over twenty-two countries.
Are people more eco-friendly now than they were years ago? If so, why?
Absolutely, compared ...
Did you enjoy this article?
Get Free Updates