A brilliant idea does not necessarily have to be a successful one. In the recycling world this logic is as cut throat as competition is on the high streets; a lot of brilliant ideas and materials still go to waste when they’re not backed by the same people who actually gave birth of the landfill problem in the first place.
Kraft Foods, the food company, appears to have understood this problem and has become serious about tackling recycling by taking a refreshingly new approach; finding a niche in the recycling world. Focusing on upcycling, Kraft Foods is going to recycle its own packaging and materials that are known as hard to recycle. Kraft signed an agreement with TerraCycle.net, an upcycling specialist, which creates high quality but affordable items such as umbrellas, backpacks and purses from Kraft’s packages.
TerraCycle, which was set up by multiple business plan contest winner and Princeton University drop out Tom Szaky, has dramatically increased its numberof collection sites across the country since it signed the deal with Kraft. In a statement, Kraft said it’s the first major corporation to fund the collection of packaging associated with its products after consumers have discarded these. Several Kraft brands, including Balance bars and South Beach Living bars, Capri Sun beverages, and Chips Ahoy! and Oreo cookies, are the lead sponsors of TerraCycle Brigades. A donation is made for every piece of packaging that’s collected by TerraCycle. The program is nationwide.
“Sustainability is about looking out for future generations,” says Jeff Chahley, Senior Director, Sustainability, Kraft Foods. It’s so cool to see trash turned into merchandise that’s unlike anything else on the market.” TerraCycle’s founder Szaky’s set out in 2001 to create the world’s most environmentally friendly company and currently the company’s range of products are sold at major retailers including The Home Depot, Target, Wal*Mart and Whole Foods Markets.
At the moment, there are three TerraCycle programs for which Kraft is the largest sponsor. The Energy Bar Wrapper Brigade collects used bar wrappers and donates two cents for each wrapper collected. TerraCycle turns these wrappers into colorful, durable purses and backpacks. The wrappers also can be fused, making the wrappers very dynamic for upcycling.
Secondly, the Cookie Wrapper Brigade collects used Nabisco cookie wrappers and donates two cents for each wrapper collected. TerraCycle fuses the wrappers into sheets of waterproof fabric, which then can be made into umbrellas, shower curtains, backpacks, placemats and much more.
Third, the Drink Pouch Brigade collects used drink pouches and donates to participating school or community group two cents for every pouch collected. The used pouches are then sewn into tote bags, handbags and other durable items that will be available as early as April 1st at several major retailers.
With a monetary reward as incentive to recycle, the programs help schools, community groups, and non-profits across the country earn funds to support local activities and parts of the program are already a big success. For instance, over 800 Drink Pouch Brigades have been set up. And it is expected that the Cookie Wrapper Brigade will count 4,000 brigades in the first year.
To encourage more recycling, each program is free to individuals and organizations looking to participate and all shipping costs are paid. Once the used packaging items are collected, TerraCycle upcycles each material into an eco-friendly product because it’s made from waste! If you are interested in participating, sign up.