TerraCycle Logo - Eliminating the Idea of Waste

Terracycle’s website states that they are “a social enterprise on a mission to eliminate the idea of waste.  TerraCycle offers free recycling programs funded by brands, manufacturers, and retailers around the world to help you collect and recycle your hard-to-recycle waste.”

When we think of recycling, we often think of the big plastic bins at the end of our sidewalk filled with all kinds of paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, and tin cans.  In more rural areas, many of us have to separate these items ourselves, load them into our trucks and vans, and deposit them in the recycling centers located in town.  But what happens to all of those items that aren’t accepted at the recycling centers such as razors, toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, bread bags, frozen food packaging, etc?  That is where Terracycle comes in! 

As mentioned earlier, Terracycle partners with brands to fund and reuse packaging from their products.  Terracycle’s website explains what they do:  “Terracycle reuses, upcycles, and recycles waste instead of landfilling it.  This moves waste from a linear system to a circular one, allowing it to keep cycling in our economy.”   

TerraCycle’s Process in their own words:

Our process starts with our R&D team — in-house scientists and material application specialists who work across our various offices and in collaboration with leading universities — who analyze the materials to determine the right way to process it into new materials. This includes how to break down the waste, separate it into its building blocks, and then recycle those materials for new applications.

Once R&D is complete and a recycling program is live, our Materials team builds an active supply chain for collection, sortation, recycling and end markets. To stay ahead of packaging innovations and changing technology, we leverage a wide network of third party logistics, sorting, and processing capabilities to bring our solutions to life.

In each country, shipments of waste are sent to local TerraCycle Material Recovery Facilities (MRF), which are always located in the same country where the waste originates.

When a shipment arrives at a dedicated TerraCycle MRF, it is checked-in, weighed, and visually inspected for contamination.

Material Recovery Facility - product packing ready to be recycled

TerraCycle utilizes a wide variety of sorting technologies such as manual sortation, size separation, sink/float, optical, air density, gravity, magnetic, and more.

The different material types are cleaned, then sent to third-party processing partners that recycle the materials into usable forms.

For example, metals and aluminum are shredded and smelted into metal sheeting, ingots, or bar stock. Glass is crushed and melted to be used in new glass bottles (if clear) or brick, cement or concrete applications (if colored). Rubber is generally cryo-milled to freeze, then size-reduced into a powdered state for flooring applications. Organics are composted or used in industrial and commercial fertilizers.

Plastics are the largest category of material we collect through our programs. These materials are size-reduced (made smaller by being shredded or ground), then melted and reformatted into pellets, flakes, or a powder format.

After we ensure the waste is recycled into a raw material, it is sold to manufacturing companies who produce end-products, completing the journey of recycling. These end products may include outdoor furniture and decking, plastic shipping pallets, watering cans, storage containers and bins, tubes for construction applications, flooring tiles, playground surface covers and athletic fields, and much more.

A banner with three photos: A man sitting on a bench, children planting a garden and children playing on a playground

Terracycle was already an established program in our community when we opened Heaven’s Dew.  However, it was under-utilized and located in a place with minimal hours of operation.  Since the mission of Terracycle fits so well with our vision here at Heaven’s Dew, we decided to request that the program’s collection site be moved here to our store.  As Terracycle partners with different brands, they open new “Brigrades.”  Each Brigade collects a predetermined set of waste according to the brand that sponsors it.  The Terracycle program that is housed here at Heaven’s Dew currently consists of 8 Brigades which are outlined below. 

What you can recycle at our TerraCycle Location: 

Bread, Bagels and Hot Dog Buns in their normal packaging.
  • BIMBO Bakery Packaging
    TerraCycle® and Bimbo Bakeries USA​ have partnered to create a national recycling program for Bimbo Bakeries USA bags. For a full list of Bimbo Bakeries USA brands that are recyclable through this program, visit Bimbo Bakeries.

    Please remove stickers and adhesives from your Bimbo Bakeries USA bread and bakery bags before shipping to TerraCycle.

  • Colgate Oral Care Recycling ProgramKeep smiles and futures bright through recycling! TerraCycle® and Colgate® have partnered to create a national recycling program for all brands of used or empty oral care products and packaging.  What can you recycle?  All brands of used or empty toothpaste tubes and caps, toothbrushes, toothpaste cartons, toothbrush outer packaging, and floss containers.

    NOTE: Electric toothbrushes, battery toothbrushes, and/or their parts are not accepted for recycling through the program.

Colgate products on display on white background
Safety razors and razor packaging made by Gillette
  • Gillette Razor Recycling Program: TerraCycle® and Gillette® are on the cutting edge with a first-of-its-kind recycling program for all brands of blades, razors, and plastic packaging. What you can recycle: All brands of blades and razors (systems and disposable units, and replaceable-blade cartridge units), rigid plastic packaging, and flexible plastic bag packaging.
Food items in their Kroger Brand packaging
  • Kroger Our Brands Recycling Program:  TerraCycle® and Kroger® have partnered to create a national recycling program for Kroger® Our Brands flexible plastic packaging.  What you can recycle:  Simple Truth™, Private Selection®, Kroger® Brand, Comforts®, HemisFares®, Luvsome®, Abound® and other Kroger Co brands flexible plastic packaging.
  • Late July Snacks Recycling Program:  TerraCycle® and Late July®​ Snacks have partnered to create a free recycling program for Late July® Snacks packaging as well as a fundraising opportunity for participants.  Program accepted waste: Late July® Snacks packaging.
Snack Foods made by Late July Brand.
Rice product packaging from Lundberg Family Farms
  • Lundberg Family Farms Recycling ProgramWholesome goodness for people and the planet: TerraCycle® and Lundberg Family Farms have partnered on a national recycling program for all flexible Lundberg Family Farms packaging and food wrappers.  What you can recycle: All flexible Lundberg Family Farms packaging and food wrappers.
  • Once Upon a Farm Recycling Program:  TerraCycle® and Once Upon a Farm have partnered to create a national recycling program for Once Upon a Farm baby food, applesauce, and smoothie pouches.  What you can recycle:  Once Upon a Farm baby food, applesauce, and smoothie pouches.
Baby Food Pouches from Once Upon a Farm Brand
  • Personal Care and Beauty Recycling Program:  TerraCycle® and Garnier® have partnered to create a free recycling program for all brands of skin care, hair care, and cosmetic packaging. Recycle from home by joining the program and downloading a free shipping label, or search the map below for a local recycling solution.  What you can recycle:
    • Skin care packaging: lip balm tubes and caps, soap dispensers and tubes, body wash caps, lotion dispensers and caps. 
    • Hair care packaging: shampoo caps, conditioner caps, hair gel tubes, and caps, hair spray triggers, and hair paste caps.
    • Cosmetic packaging: lipstick cases, lip gloss tubes, mascara tubes, eye shadow cases, bronzer cases, foundation packaging, powder cases, eyeliner cases, eyeliner pencils, eye shadow tubes, concealer tubes, concealer sticks, and lip liner pencils.
Personal Care products in green containers by Garnier Brand

Did you know that it all started with worms? 

In 2001, a freshman at Princeton University, 19-year-old Tom Szaky took several of his friends up to Montreal for fall break. There, he stayed with friends who were feeding kitchen scraps to red worms and using the resulting fertilizer to feed some of their indoor plants. The results were amazing and the idea for TerraCycle was born: to help eliminate the idea of waste by making quality fertilizer from food waste.  2002:  Tom emptied his savings accounts, borrowed money from friends and family, and maxed out his credit cards to create a massive worm poop conversion unit. In 2006, TerraCycle Plant Foods were widely available in the US for the first time. In July of 2006, Tom and TerraCycle were featured on the cover of Inc. Magazine, as the #1 CEO in America under 30 years old as part of their coveted 30 under 30 Awards.  In 2007 TerraCycle grew to nine different product offerings.  Meanwhile, TerraCycle’s Bottle Brigade reached 5,000 participating locations. In August 2007, TerraCycle launched the Drink Pouch Brigade, with founding sponsor Honest Tea. On the heels of this success TerraCycle launched the Yogurt Cup Brigade and the Energy Bar Wrapper Brigade, sponsored by Stonyfield Farm and Clif Bar, respectively. In 2011, TerraCycle opened in Norway, Spain, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Over 30 new waste collection programs were launched and total staff grew to over 100 employees. TerraCycle also donated over $3 million to charities in 2011 for the total waste collected.   2017:  TerraCycle was named a winner of the United Nations Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activity award.  TerraCycle was also the recipient of the 2017 Green/Sustainable Business Achievement Award given by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  2019:  TerraCycle closed out the decade by unveiling Loop, a circular reuse system delivering the world’s favorite brands to your doorstep in durable, refillable packaging, moving away from disposability and single-use for a less wasteful world. Loop launched in May 2019 in the United States and France, and is still growing. Offering more than 300 items (and counting), Loop provides anything from Tide detergent to Häagen-Dazs ice cream, to Tropicana orange juice to Milka Biscuits — all in reusable packaging. After using the products, customers put the empty containers back in the Loop tote to be picked up by a delivery service, cleaned and refilled, and shipped out to consumers again.  In other words, it’s the 21st-century milkman.  2020:  An unprecedented global pandemic challenged the world, and TerraCycle kept innovating to eliminate waste. TerraCycle recycled all types of PPE (personal protective equipment) for businesses and homes and drove the launch of the first large-scale PPE recycling initiative for disposable masks. Loop expanded to the continental U.S. and the UK and announced key partnerships to bring reusable packaging to quick-serve restaurants and beauty products.

Chalkboard with words "Terra Cycle Room" and other words written on it with plastic bins in the background

TerraCycle impacts Heaven’s Dew & Our Buying Choices:

Knowing that these waste products can have a new life after we are finished with them may impact our buying choices at the store.  In this country, most of us do not think about the end of life of the products that we purchase.  Nearly everything we buy comes wrapped in plastic film or packaged in plastic containers.  Of course it would be best to look for items with no plastic packaging, but when it cannot be avoided, maybe we can start to think about making a choice based on what could happen to the package that holds the items we want.

When you come to Heaven’s Dew with your bags or buckets full of Terracycle items, come into the store to find our “Terracycle” room.  Hang a right just past the front counter and then head straight through the next room. Can you believe that we have an entire room dedicated to Terracycle?  That’s how important it is to us!   We have bins labeled with the Brigades that we participate in on a table.  You can separate your items into the bins, pick up a Terracycle cheat sheet, and feel good about helping the environment!  While you’re in there, it’s a good time to review all that can be collected at our site as well.

Another interesting aspect of Terracycle is their Rewards Program.  You may have seen in a few of the Brigade descriptions above that Terracycle and their brand partners give back to organizations that are enrolled in the Terracycle program.  When we send boxes full of waste to Terracycle, the program housed here at Heaven’s Dew earns points.  When enough points are earned, they can be redeemed for money.  All money generated through this program goes to Oak Grove Mennonite Church in West Liberty, Ohio. 

Blue, yellow and green tubs on a table.