The Largest Ever Upcycling Program?

In 2001, Tom Szaky founded TerraCycle whose eco-friendly products are sold at major retailers like The Home Depot, Target, Wal*Mart and Whole Foods Markets.

Upcycling is the art of taking used goods like packages and materials that are challenging to recycle and turning them into affordable, high quality goods. Beginning with making products from waste, such as Worm Poop, that are packaged in old containers, they have now announced a new partnership with Kraft Foods, that will greatly expand the number of collection sites TerraCycle has available across the country and will help prevent a significant amount of packaging waste from going into landfills.

Several Kraft brands, including Balance bars and South Beach Living bars, Capri Sun beverages, and Chips Ahoy! and Oreo cookies, are now the lead sponsors of TerraCycle Brigades. These nationwide recycling programs make a donation for every piece of packaging a location collects.

TerraCycle Kraft products

It’s good to see major brands make moves towards providing solutions for the problems they, and consumers, create however part of me wonders what other environmental policies Kraft has in place and whether this is partly greenwashing. Maybe I’m becoming cynical, TerraCycle does seem like an excellent company and has great products and policies, the bags do look kind of cool in a retro way, and the trash would have otherwise been sent to landfill. What do you think?

5 thoughts on “The Largest Ever Upcycling Program?

  1. That’s quite brilliant. Whether it’s green washing or not, it’s still a clever idea. I think next year might well be the year that wearing (or using) recycled items could become a major fashion statement.

    There are just so many blogs talking about it at the moment.

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  2. Thanks Richard, this is true, recycled (or upcycled) clothing definitely seems to be getting more popular judging on the number of press releases I get about it.

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  3. Joel, This is a good idea but I am really concerned about the actual durability of these products. I am very familiar with this as I have been in this field for many years already. We basically were the pioneers in this field. Unlike these new players which fuse the wrappers and pouches together with heat (using a lot of energy), we manually weave each by hand through fair trade partnerships around the world. It is important for all these newcomers to understand that durability and quality are an essential part of sustainability otherwise they are simply prolonging the life of these materials for a few more months before ending up in the landfill. We have been repurposing may companies’ waste for many years now but we never compromise the quality of our products. I hope these high standards remain up there as this trend makes its way to the mass market. Cheers!

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