Time to Rethink How You See Your Trash: A Review of TerraCycle
Recycling is something I’ve done since I was little.
However, I recently found out that many products such as toothpaste caps and the pumps in lotions and soaps are classified as hard-to-recycle waste. This new fact didn’t sit well with me, so I decided to look for places that could recycle these products and found a company called TerraCycle.
From luggage to K-cups, TerraCycle recycles various types of hard-to-recycle waste. Operating in more than 20 countries, they’ve been able to recycle and repurpose over a billion pieces of trash.
The company upcycles some of these materials into products you can buy on DwellSmart. For example, you can order a reusable tote bag made of discarded juice pouches.
Depending on what items you’re looking to recycle, you have the option to join a free recycling program, municipal program, industrial waste solutions, regulated waste recycling or purchase a Zero Waste Box.
The municipal program, industrial waste solutions and regulated waste recycling target communities, schools, businesses, industrial industries and the medical field. The free recycling programs and Zero Waste Boxes are meant for individuals.
To start off my experience with TerraCycle, I browsed their site to see what kind of waste they collect. I was surprised by how many household items they accept such as shower accessories, beauty products and cleaning supplies. I was also shocked to see they recycle items I would have never thought were recyclable, namely backpacks, tape dispensers, flip flops and candy wrappers.
After viewing their site, I decided to participate in a free program and purchase a Zero Waste Box. I signed up for the Colgate Oral Care Recycling Program that focuses on collecting waste from dental hygiene products such as toothpaste and toothbrushes. However, I was waitlisted and had to wait a week before I was an active participant in the program.
I also signed up for two other free programs, but I’m still on the waitlist. Being waitlisted is normal for all the free programs, but the amount of time you have to wait to become an active participant will vary.
For all the free programs TerraCycle lets you know exactly how many locations are participating, how much waste has been collected and how much money has been raised. I liked seeing this data because most of the time you don’t know if your contribution is really making a difference. It’s nice to see the impact you and other people are having.
Because the free programs are made possible by partnerships, you’re only allowed to collect certain types of waste. From Burt’s Bees to Febreze, TerraCycle partners with these companies to recycle products from only that company or from companies with similar products, and each program will specify what products they’ll accept.
Depending on which program you choose to participate in, you’ll either be sent a prepaid shipping label to put on your package or you’ll be asked to drop-off your recyclables at a collection site. For drop-offs, TerraCycle has a map you can refer to, so you can find a location near you to bring your waste.
The boxes were created to recycle almost every type of hard-to-recycle waste.
You have to pay, however, for the Zero Waste Box, and the cost of shipping is included in the price. These boxes allow you to recycle waste that can’t be collected through the free programs or municipal recycling. The boxes were created to recycle almost every type of hard-to-recycle waste.
This option gives you the opportunity to get rid of various types of waste such as sports equipment, cigarettes and cooking oil. The great benefit about the boxes is you can throw away waste from any company and can get rid of random items such as filters and party decorations. You can purchase the boxes in various sizes, but know that some of the sizes sell out often.
The price of each box depends on the items you want to recycle and the size of the box. The cheapest boxes they have cost $40, and the most expensive boxes can cost you over $200, which isn’t ideal for someone on a tight budget.
Due to how expensive some of these boxes are, I think they are best for people who have extra spending money and are committed to recycling. I also think they’ll be helpful to have at work or school because you can split the cost with other people.
Once I went through all the boxes, I decided to buy a small box to recycle aluminum cans. The box cost me $58 and came with a prepaid label. The box took about a week to arrive and only a minute to put together.
TerraCycle also offers a points program. You earn points by sending in packages, and those points can be redeemed for a donation to any organization you choose or for TerraCycle products. The weight of your box determines the number of points.
Each package you send in has a list of guidelines to follow. TerraCycle offers a complete list of items that are considered acceptable and unacceptable waste. They also ask that you remove all excess product from the items and ship them dry if you washed them out beforehand.
It took me about two weeks to completely fill the Zero Waste Box and a month to fill a small boxes with items for the Colgate program. Once the boxes were full, I took them to FedEx to be shipped back to TerraCycle.
The whole collection and shipping process was extremely easy. All I had to do was wait for the items to be emptied. Then I threw them into a box.
I enjoyed having a box specifically for waste I normally wouldn’t recycle. The process made me more aware of the waste I generate and how much of it can be repurposed. I also loved feeling like I was doing my part to reduce the amount of pollution on our planet.
Despite how expensive the Zero Waste Boxes are, I think they are definitely a worthy investment and should be purchased if recycling is important to you. Otherwise, their free programs are a great way to be introduced to the world of recycling because they show you how your trash can be repurposed and used for other things.
I really enjoyed recycling with TerraCycle and will continue to participate in their free programs. All those pieces of trash add up, so maybe you’ll want to join me in protecting the environment.
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