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‘Upcycling’ company gives waste a run for its money in the UK

Louise Bateman
22nd April 2010
A company that has pioneered the process of 'upcycling’ in the West is reporting strong demand for its services since launching in the UK last year.

is a US firm run by eco entrepreneur Tom Szaky. It specialises in converting waste materials into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. The process is called 'upcycling’ and TerraCycle has managed to turn it into multi-million pound business since first branching into it in its home country in 2004.

TerraCycle works mainly with large corporate partners to collect short lifecycle materials, such as food packaging, and turn them into more durable, longer-lasting products. Consumers are encouraged to send TerraCycle their waste, which in return donates money to their favourite charity or school. The company then turns the waste material into hundreds of durable, longer-lasting products, such as bags, pot plants and rubbish bins for resale.

Seven months ago, TerraCycle set up in the UK and launched a nationwide packaging reclamation programme in partnership with giant foodmaker Kraft, collecting Kenco and Tassimo coffee packaging. Alongside the post-consumer waste, the programme also collects unusable packaging materials from Kraft Foods’ factories to upcycle.

TerraCycle/Kraft programme diverts over 3m pieces of packaging

 The partners are claiming the programme has been a success, saying it has so far collected over 3.2 million pieces of pre and post-consumer packaging, diverting 35 tonnes from landfill.

The programme has also earned participants over £10,000 for charity and has recruited more than 21,000 individuals to TerraCycle’s free upcycling programmes, which it calls 'Brigades’.

"UK consumers have reacted extremely positively to the opportunity to reuse, instead of discarding, this packaging," said Szaky. "In one programme alone, we have already collected more than 500,000 Tassimo T-discs and Kenco Eco Refill packs. That shows the massive potential these programmes have to grow in the UK and beyond."

TerraCycle planning to announce more corporate partnerships
A spokersperson for TerraCycle said the company was "very close to announcing more [corporate] partnerships which will take the TerraCycle initiative Europe-wide".

"We will continually be expanding the waste streams and product types we collect from consumers with multiple brands," she added.

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‘Upcycling’ company gives waste a run for its money in the UK
TerraCycle's 'Kenco camera bag' made from 'upcycled' Kraft packaging
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