TerraCycle Announces Initiative to Collect Non-Recyclable Waste at Big Box Stores Nationwide

We are extremely excited to announce here on Treehugger, for the first time ever the next phase of the TerraCycle national, non-recyclable waste collection system in the front of major retail stores across the country! For more details, click below the fold.

Phase 1 of of our process involves groups collecting specific packaging waste and sending it to us, postage paid. The program has been growing since mid-2007. As you may already know, you can go to www.terracycle.net and sign up to collect a whole range of waste streams. We donate $0.02 to $0.06 per unit of waste you collect to your favorite charity. The program is currently in more than 20,000 locations (mostly schools and civic groups), engaging more than 3 million Americans nationwide. Our plans are to double this collection capacity in the next year or two.

Phase II involves permanent collection points for non-recycable packaging in the front of stores where the products are sold. We are partnering with a number of major big-box retailers (such as Petco, OfficeMax, Home Depot, Best Buy, and more) to bring collection systems into their stores nationwide.

Taking The Home Depot as a case study, the program works like this: You will be able to bring in your used paint brushes, potting mix bags, plastic bags, and so on into your local Home Depot where you will be able to place the material into our TerraCycle collection box (pictured above). For each unit of waste you deposit, TerraCycle and The Home Depot will donate $0.02 to charity. Once a waste-treams section is filled, that waste is sent to TerraCycle, where we'll clean it and upcycle it into products that may be sold back to Home Depot (as garden toolkit bag, say).

If all goes well, these waste collection systems should be in more than 10,000 retail locations by mid-2010, representing an important step toward cradle-to-cradle management of materials that otherwise would go to landfills. The systems are rolling out in the New Yoor-New Jersey area as a test during the next three months, after which we will start the process of taking them national. I would love to hear what you think--suggestions, comments, and criticisms are welcome in the comments below!

Guest blogger Tom Szaky is founder and CEO of TerraCycle.

Tags: Advertising | Consumerism | Corporate Responsibility | Plastic Bags | Recycled Consumer Goods | Upcycling | Waste