This Program Recycles the Hard-to-Recycle

By Kate Lawless | Photo credit: Image courtesy TerraCycle

Spring cleaning is on our minds, and it’s important to think about what we’re throwing away — but also how we can make more sustainable choices going forward. Luckily, there are alternatives to just tossing items that are better for the environment, and TerraCycle is one such program revolutionizing recycling. TerraCycle is a social enterprise company that offers free recycling programs “funded by brands, manufacturers and retailers around the world to help you collect and recycle your hard-to-recycle waste.” The company accepts items that typically, a city’s recycling program may not take.

Here in the Madison area, TerraCycle partners with well-known brands such as Colgate, Aussie, Gillette and Josie Maran, to recycle items like razors and cosmetics and turn them into new products. Guided by the company’s belief that you can recycle almost anything, TerraCycle has won many awards for its personalized and partnership-focused recycling programs, including being selected as a 2021 “Top Impact Company” alongside trailblazing companies like Patagonia and Tesla.

There are a few ways consumers can try out TerraCycle:

  • Peruse TerraCycle’s website to see which brands have partnerships with the company. From BIC pens to Brita water filters, you can find a wide array of products that TerraCycle is able to accept. Choose a personalized box from that brand that will ship right to your house. Then, fill up the box with used products from that brand, and ship it back to be recycled — free of cost to you. Interestingly, you can even recycle certain personal protective equipment and disposable face masks.
  • TerraCycle already has public drop-off locations in schools and libraries in Monona and certain healthcare providers in Madison. Checking their website can help you find the closest public drop-off location to you.
  • You can also order their Zero Waste Boxes for your home, school or workplace to start your community’s own recycling initiative, according to what brands and products you most regularly use.

Besides reducing waste, TerraCycle’s programs also allow consumers to earn points for each pound they recycle. Each pound is worth 100 points and each point is worth 1 cent. You can then donate that money to a school or nonprofit organization of your choice.

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