09. 06. 2006
TerraCycle sells trash
Keep an eye on this company, kids. They're an investor darling and a profitability case study just waiting to happen. This is one of those products that just smacks me upside the head with its perfect simplicity.
TerraCycle's main product is an eco-friendly organic fertilizer that is made from feeding table scraps from university dining halls to earthworms. The resultant waste products are a potent fertilizer that's rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Charles Darwin once did a study on the effects of earthworms upon soil, and discovered that large numbers of worms could heartily sustain plant life as their natural byproducts left nutrients close to the surface.
TerraCycle's talking point has been their innovative take on packaging. When you see TerraCycle on store shelves it's in a mismatch of packaging because not every bottle is shaped the same. Most recycled products are made by breaking down trash to produce the raw materials to produce a new product, but this company has done one better. Discarded twenty ounce and two liter soda bottles are simply cleaned and filled with fertilizer. The only change is a new label on the outside of the bottle. This direct reuse principle is more efficient than recycling, and it saves the TerraCycle boys a ton of money annually.
The company founders hit upon the idea of using discarded soda bottles out of necessity. It seems that they ran out of money when it came time to ship the first batch of product. Out of desperation they raided every dining hall trash can at Princeton, and decided to stick with the idea once they no longer had to.
If you're environmentally minded there are cardboard Bottle Brigade collection boxes to help with recycling efforts. The company donates five cents to a charity of choice for every reusable bottle they receive.