TerraCycle Goes Global, Rides the Big Business Wave to Brazil


Images via Terracycle

This week, TerraCycle officially launched in Brazil! The new global launch comes just six months after launching with Frito-Lay in the US, and now the expansion into Brazil - with other countries to follow - makes an important point: Big business isn't always a bad guy. In fact, it can help small business grow via sustainability.The news came to me from an e-mail from Carlos, a representative of Pepsico Brazil:

"Breaking news.... the PepsiCo / TerraCycle Brazil project is up and running. The displays are in 59 WalMart stores in São Paulo, Curitiba and Recife. Above a photo of the store we visited yesterday. In this particular store we have a TV screen with a 45-sec video with the story. I’ll post it on YouTube in a few minutes. Thank you for sharing the passion in making this happen. Let’s celebrate!"

This launch marks the first step in TerraCycle's efforts to go global. The next steps include launching with national programs in Canada, Mexico and the UK later this year.

All this news comes with a major realization to me. A realization that I think all of us that are dedicated to the green movement can be a part of. While we typically spend our time critizing big businesses, especially global conglomerates. I can stand here as a witness and tell you that if you come up with a big idea that does good and fulfills the goals of one of these corporations they will do everything in their power to embrace the idea and make it huge.

As a case study the idea of having companies pay TerraCycle to run national waste collection programs is less than 2 years old. Today over 5 million Americans are collecting waste for TerraCycle (a number that is doubling every 6 months) and over a billion units of garbage have been diverted! We launched with Frito-Lay in the US less than 6 months ago and in that short period of time Frito-Lay has driven an ambitious expansion into Brazil.

What is unique and exciting about our Brazilian expansion is manifested in how differently countries in the world view garbage. In our time in Brazil we realized that there are over 500,000 people in Brazil that make their income by digging through landfills and sidewalks for garbage they can sell. While in America people can sign up for our chip bag collection (or any other waste stream) and get $0.02 per unit of waste + free shipping, the people in Brazil will literally be building an industry around collecting chip bags. Instead of getting paid by unit they will be collecting so much that our only choice is to pay by ton. More over entire cooperatives (that already exist) will now be building infrastructure to collect chip bags in a very big way.

In the minds of the Brazilian people the chip bag has clearly gone from being trash to being a valuable commodity. This thanks to (noting the irony) Frito-Lay Brazil + Wal-Mart Brazil embracing the TerraCycle idea.

Go Green! Here's the video mentioned above for your viewing pleasure:

More on Terracycle
Garbage Moguls, the TerraCycle Reality TV Show!
Greener By Design 2009: Terracycle's Take on Trash and Sneak Peek at Next Year's Product (Video)
Revolution in a Bottle: How TerraCycle Redefines Green Business

Tags: Corporate Responsibility | Developing Nations | Economics | Green Jobs | Poverty

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