TerraCycle Heads North with Kraft Canada

Photo Courtesy of TerraCycle
Photo Courtesy of TerraCycle

The end of this year has been a return to our roots for TerraCycle in many ways. First with the opening of our first retail store a few blocks from where I first had a basement “office,” and now we’re going north to Canada–where I grew up and where we had our first major sales of product, to The Home Depot and Walmart Canada.

This new Canadian endeavor is, in fact, with Kraft–the first company with which we made a major agreement to collect branded waste in order to upcycle it into new products.  In two years, our US partnership withKraft on Capri Sun juice packs has resulted in more than 35,000 collection points, millions of pouches collected, and more than $250,000 donated to a variety of causes.

So working in Canada is just a matter of replicating what we’ve done down here in the US, in a different longitude, right? Not quite.

Canadians are not the same people as Americans, and though their land mass is quite large in relation to the US, their population is not. At just shy of 34 million people, it is a fraction of America’s more 300 million people.

Are we making a mistake launching in such a relatively smaller market? I say no.

Being a Canadian myself, I know that, despite our differences, we are a population that is deeply interested in the wellness of the environment. Perhaps from different angles and for different reasons, but we are, I dare say, more aware than Americans about our impact on the world around us. That includes minding our trash.

So launching a program with Kraft Canada to give schools and community groups the ability to get donations made to their favorite charities and non-profits via collecting Christie’s and Mr. Christie’s (Canada’s Nabisco) Back to Nature nut and trail mix packs, Del Monte juice and Kool-Aid Jammers drink pouches is something I fully expect to succeed, wildly. I’m willing to bet it may even some day exceed American totals. I’m happy for Americans to prove me wrong.

I’d like to hear from Americans, Canadians, and anybody else who cares to chime in on this subject. Who’s more environmentally conscious, or is it the same in different ways? How can recycling, e-cycling, and upcycling increase in both places?

Tom Szaky is the Founder and CEO of TerraCycle, Inc. a company that makes eco-revolutionary products entirely from garbage! TerraCycle, since its humble beginnings in a Princeton University dorm room, is committed to being a triple bottom line company. Tom at the ancient age of 19 learned about composting with worms. The concept of using tiny little worms to turn food waste into a powerful, organic fertilizer fascinated Tom, who was appalled by the amount of food discarded by his campus's cafeteria. Tom started TerraCycle with no investors from a friend's garage by building a Worm Gin where he could house millions of worms in a small area. He all but bankrupted himself and maxed out all his credit cards to build the machine. With the help of friends he would shovel pounds of rotten, maggot-infested food from the Princeton cafeterias. Without any money left over, Tom could not afford to buy bottles to package his fertilizer. That's when the sustainability gods smiled on Tom, who was up one night wandering the streets Princeton in search of an answer to his packaging dilemma. It just happened to be recycling night and Tom realized that millions of homes were putting billions of free bottles out on the curb once a week! That serendipitous moment set everything to follow into motion. Slowly he began to finance his infantile start up by winning business plan contests. Finally he hit the pay dirt! He won the million dollar grand prize at the Carrot Capital Business plan contest. However, the financiers of the contest wanted to move TerraCycle away from used bottles and away from it's environmental focus. Despite being on the verge of bankruptcy, Tom turned down the money. In the six years since then TerraCycle has grown to a multi-million dollar company that doubles in size every year. Still we are committed to our triple bottom line beginnings. Still making our products from other's people waste. Still based in an Urban Enterprise Zone in Trenton, NJ. Still a second chance employer. Find out how and why, here at triplepundit.com