Proving that Waste Can Be Eradicated
Tom Szaky, Jo Opot and Richard Perl, Terra Cycle
Americans try to recycle as much as possible. Composting is more widespread than ever. And yet, despite these best-laid plans, our nation’s trash bins continue to fill up week after week with non-recyclable waste, contributing to our country’s landfills.
TerraCycle’s business proposition is that waste is not inevitable—and, indeed, that it can be eliminated through creative systems designed to collect and convert previously non-recyclable materials into new useful products.
Since its founding by SVN member Tom Szaky in 2001, TerraCycle has become one of the fastest growing green companies in the world. The company has helped nearly 28 million people in 20 countries collect billions of pieces of waste that were otherwise headed to landfills and air-polluting incinerators. These materials are either upcycled (reusing materials in the shape they are in) or recycled, which helps reduce the use of limited natural resources as well as the production of carbon and greenhouse gases. Even Terra Cycle's office (pictured above) is green: the space is equipped with entirely upcycled furniture, a used turf floor and a branded wall made of candy wrappers.
“TerraCycle’s success over the last few years has been greatly linked to the SVN network, and we are forever grateful for the support we have received,” said Jo Opot, global vice president of business development. “When Tom Szaky received the SVN Innovation Award in 2008, he met Richard Perl, who joined the Terracycle team as its CAO. Tom and Richard have spearheaded TerraCycle’s growth in 16 countries with over 60 brands and overseen the development of the infrastructure and systems to support that growth.”
“Not to mention,” adds Opot, “the joyous and humbling experience of working with Tom and Richard on a daily basis, as well as engaging other SVN members to eliminate the idea of waste.”