Through partnerships with major companies, TerraCycle provides consumers an opportunity to fundraise for non-profit organisations while responsibly disposing of hard-to-recycle materials.

TerraCycle is determined to find ways to reuse or recycle goods that are typically difficult or impossible to recycle, including everything from potato chip packages, to cigarette butts, to coffee capsules. They partner with large companies who want to reduce the waste impact of their operations by giving consumers a way to responsibly dispose of hard-to-recycle materials whilst also raising money for non-profit organisations. Their partner companies sponsor the collection and shipping costs of waste streams from their products. For each shipment of waste, participants – often schools and community groups – have the opportunity to earn TerraCycle points, which can be redeemed for upcycled goods, charity donations, or cash donations to a nominated organisation.

For example, TerraCycle has partnered with oral health brand Colgate to recycle packaging, toothbrushes, and other products. Participants collect and ship their Colgate products free of charge to TerraCycle, where they are separated and turned into new products such as outdoor furniture and gardening supplies. Participants are eligible for two TerraCycle points for each unit they recycle, with each point redeemable for a $0.01 donation to a non-profit organisation of choice. So far, consumers have recycled over 3.7 million units of Colgate products at 26,500 locations and raised over $80,000 for charity.

Through their recycling partnerships, TerraCycle has helped over 203 million people in 21 countries to recycle enough waste to donate over $45 million to charities.

Why you should care

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) refers to a system whereby producers are responsible for the environmental impact of their products throughout their lifecycle. It was conceived as a way to reduce the end-of-life costs of goods, particularly those that are difficult to recycle. There are already a number of EPR schemes in operation worldwide, but most apply for electronic waste. TerraCycle is providing large companies with an opportunity to voluntarily engage in EPR schemes in a way that creates additional social value through charitable donations.

How the Global Goals are addressed

Responsible consumption and production

TerraCycle is tackling waste generation by improving collection and processing of hard-to-recycle materials. In addition, they are helping large companies take responsibility for the life cycle impacts of their products.