Innovation That Matters

Garbage into gold, now via discarded wrappers

We’ve already written about TerraCycle, the company that achieved a spot on the shelves of Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Target with its eco-fertilizer based on organic waste and worm castings. Now TerraCycle has found yet another way to create gold out of garbage by turning discarded wrappers and juice pouches into bags, pencil boxes and other accessories. As part of its ongoing mission to “eliminate the idea of waste,” as its website puts it, TerraCycle has struck deals with large food and beverage manufacturers to collect the wrappers from their products and “upcycle” them into new, unique accessories. Through a partnership with Kraft’s Capri Sun and Honest Kids juice makers, for example, TerraCycle collects juice pouches from individuals and organizations that have signed up to participate in its “Drink Pouch Brigade.” Each time participants send some pouches in to TerraCycle, Capri Sun and Honest Kids donate USD 0.02 per pouch to the charity of the collector’s choice (they pay USD 0.01 each for pouches from other juice brands). Nabisco, similarly, has sponsored TerraCycle’s cookie wrapper program, while ClifBar and Kraft’s Balance Bar have sponsored initiatives to upcycle energy bar wrappers. There are also programs for corks, yoghurt cups, soda bottles and Bear Naked granola bags. Once TerraCycle gets the donated packaging, it converts it into bags and other accessories. Displayed on its site, for example, is a USD 9.99 tote bag available at that’s made entirely from Capri Sun juice pouches. Also available are backpacks, pencil cases, homework folders and lunch boxes, all made entirely from TerraCycle’s upcycled wrappers. Juice pouches and wrappers have proven a particularly difficult challenge to break down and recycle, so TerraCycle’s innovative, creative and green solution is clearly a compelling one for companies struggling with that problem. For consumers, bags and other goods made from recycled packaging are not just eco-friendly, but they also offer the added benefit of a story behind every product. (Related: Eco-chic entrepreneurs.) Spotted by: Flemming Birch



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