Monday, October 26, 2009


Location: Trenton, New Jersey
Years: 2001-Present
Founder: Tom Szaky, Princeton University Student

TerraCycle wants to be a part of an eco-revolution through its closed-loop, upcycled products. Having started in 2001 making fertilizers from worms, it has grown to have 7 million people recycling and producing 102 items.

TerraCycle sells its products in major retailers nation-wide. Some products are more eye-catching and gimmicky than revolutionary recycling ideas (ie. Vinyl Wall Clock) but the founding idea of using worms to digest organic waste to create a natural fertilizer is noted for its potential to reduce the need for both nitrogen and phosphorus based fertilizers. A media-success story founder Szaky was featured on the cover of Inc. in 2006. Proof of the effectiveness and growth of the new fertilizer was Scott’s Miracle Gro sued TerraCycle for claims of effectiveness. The company’s community based focus extends to its location in abandoned buildings in Trenton, purchasing program for recycled wrappers in schools, and use of local artists in designing and hand-decorating. A marketing campaign with Newsweek where the magazine cover folded into an envelope and 47,000 readers responded by mailing in plastic shopping bags, which were made into reTote messenger bags. The rate of growth of the company proves promising as its scale increases.

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