Start Up a Recycling Brigade

Do you know about TerraCycle? This company runs recycling collection programs for previously on-recyclable items, such as drink pouches, diaper packaging, candy and energy bar wrappers, dairy tubs, and household cleaner packaging. They recently added the ability to recycle cigarette waste. Much of the collected items are upcycled into new products that are sold on their website or through retailers they’ve partnered with, such as Target. Some is turned into pellets or other forms that then are converted into building materials.

Recycling programs are organized into ‘Brigades’ by waste type. Some materials collections are done with partners such as Bear Naked and Athenos. Sign up for a Brigade online, create your own collection box, and start gathering your recyclables. Collection boxes at a place of work or at a school will help to collect items faster. Terracycle suggests creating a collection box that clearly indicates what you are looking for and placing the collection box in a well-trafficked location. Items don’t have to be cleaned or neatly stacked/packaged prior to donation, making the process simpler. Use odor-blocking plastic bags in your collection box to contain smells and liquid drips. Terracycle provides a collection and mailing guide on their website.

When it’s time to send them in, print out the return postage label and bring your box to a UPS store to be shipped. Terracycle pays for the postage. In addition to paying for postage, Terracycle awards you points every item you donate. The points can then be turned into a cash donation to the charity or school of your choice. Rather than counting each individual item donated, Terracycle has pre-determined how many items make up an average weight. This average weight is applied to your shipment to determine the number of items. Donations are tacked in your online account.

Main image for Athenos Packaging Brigade®

A few examples can show how much can be done through these programs. For the Athenos Packaging Brigade, any Athenos brand hummus, feta cheese and pita chips packages are accepted. Currently, there are 510 registered collection locations and 240 open slots. In this relatively new program, 266 items have been donated so far, generating $13.32 for charity. As another example, M&M brand candy wrappers are being collected in 15,000 locations (the maximum number of locations allowed for this Brigade) which have collected 7,011,898 wrappers for $142,775.17 in donations.

Main image for Candy Wrapper Brigade®

To date, $5,010,512.89 has been raised by 33,560,329 people worldwide, according to Terracycle. All donated items stay out of landfills while they live their second lives. And the upcycled items can be donated back to Terracycle at the end of their usefulness to be recycled yet again.



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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have been running a TerraCycle program in Westford, MA for almost 3 years. We have raised over $8000!

    • Hi Kristina,
      Thanks for your reply.. It’s nice to hear of a local program. You’ve collected a huge amount of money in such a short time! Can you share how/what you collected?

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