Tom Szaky dropped out of Princeton University to start his own business. Of course, people thought he was crazy. They thought he was even crazier when he told them he would be working with liquefied worm poop. But that was almost 15 years ago, and now his company, TerraCycle, is the world leader in upcycling and recycling.
As a freshman at Princeton, 19-year-old Szaky went with a group of friends to Montreal for fall break. He stayed with friends who were feeding their kitchen scraps to red worms and using the resulting fertilizer to feed some of their household plants. They were getting great results, and that’s when Szaky came up with the idea for TerraCycle.
Born on the idea of turning food waste into quality fertilizer, the company now upcycles and recycles everything from grocery bags to coffee capsules and cigarette butts. Now they’ve partnered with natural pet food brand Wellness, and the empty packaging from their TruFood pet food line has joined the list.
Chanda Leary-Coutu, Wellness Senior Manager of Marketing Communications, says that the company is very excited about its partnership with TerraCycle. She says that many Wellness customers embrace a green lifestyle and the company is happy to give them an easy way to recycle their pet food packaging.
Every year TerraCycle collects and repurposes billions of pieces of waste. The waste comes from 21 countries around the world. The company also donates millions of dollars to schools and charities in the process. Like all of the other waste that they collect, TerraCycle will gather the Wellness pet food bags and upcycle them into consumer products like bike racks, recycling bins, park benches, and pet bowls.
The TruFood bags, and all other waste, is collected through free, brand-funded, national platforms called “Brigades,” as well as many other government and consumer-funded models. Information is available on the TerraCycle website for interested pet parents.
All you have to do is register as a Wellness Pet Food Brigade member (individuals or organizations can register) and then collect pet food bags in a cardboard box. Once the box is full you can download a UPS pre-paid shipping label from your account on the site and drop the box off at any UPS location or pick-up site.
For every pre-paid shipment of TruFood bags that weighs at least 2 pounds, the brigade member will earn points that can be converted to cash and donated to a charity of the members choosing or they may use it to purchase a charity gift. Registration for any of the brigades (there are more than 40) is free.