2022 saw significant steps forward in addressing our global waste crisis, though there is still a long way to go. Companies made new commitments to reduce waste, such as increasing use of post-consumer recycled material in packaging or planning shifts to reusables. New, stronger government policies have been passed or proposed, including new packaging EPR (extended producer responsibility) laws in the US and the proposed revision to the European Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. And we as citizens are collectively becoming more informed, making changes to our own habits, and calling for action.
There’s been a lot of momentum at TerraCycle in 2022 as well. Here’s what we’ve been focusing on this past year:
Increasing access: We recognize the barriers that many people face when it comes to reducing waste and accessing recycling solutions. We’re expanding our options to make them easier than ever to conveniently use:
- Retail recycling programs: New partnerships and program expansions with retailers around the world put free recycling options in easy reach. New in-store collection programs have been launched at dozens of retailers in 2022, including permanent in-store recycling for beauty, oral care, and grooming waste with Monoprix in France and the first permanent e-commerce recycling program with Boxed.com in the US.
- Recycling hubs: In partnership with Walmart and Sam’s Club, we launched the first Community Recycling Hub in the world on Earth Day in 2022. The Hub collects 12 different streams of waste for recycling, including coffee capsules, beauty packaging, and clothing. Similar hubs have also been launched in Japan with Aeon, New Zealand with the Warehouse group, France with Carrefour, and many more.
- Free recycling programs: We launched first-of-their-kind recycling programs for products like wetsuits, syringe filters, power tools, and much more.
- TerraCycle Home: 2022 also saw the launch of our new recycling pickup service for all plastics and hard-to-recycle items like toys, PPE, StyrofoamTM, water filters, textiles, and more. TerraCycle Home is available in select locations in the US, with plans to expand to more regions and countries this year.
Sharing behind-the-scenes: Recycling items that can’t typically be recycled curbside is a complex process. We’re working hard to share what happens behind the scenes at TerraCycle so you can understand how our recycling process works.
- New behind-the-scenes videos: We’re creating videos showing how we recycle waste, like beauty packaging and coffee capsules, from start to finish.
- Third-party accreditation: Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspection, and certification services, concluded an audit of our collection and recycling supply chain. Through this process, we gained formal certification to the Recycled Claim Standard.
- Life cycle assessments: We take environmental responsibility seriously. Our life cycle assessment (LCA) department conducts comprehensive third-party reviewed LCAs that prove our solutions benefit our planet, not just from a waste mitigation perspective but from a climate change one as well. These LCA’s show that recycling via TerraCycle has roughly 45% less negative climate impact than landfilling or incinerating.
Investing greatly in reuse: Through Loop, we’ve developed a global reuse platform that allows brands to develop reusable packaging and for retailers to make those products available to consumers. In 2022, we continued to expand Loop, through partnerships with Aeon in Japan, Carrefour in France, and Giant and Walmart in the US.
Moving forward (2023 and beyond)
We’re encouraged by all of the progress we’re seeing, but we also recognize how much work is left to do. The hard truth is that many companies aren’t on track to meet their voluntary commitments to reduce waste and more legislation is needed to incentivize change.
Consumers have a role to play here too. We’re buying more than ever and creating more waste than ever, with only a small portion being recycled. Here’s what you can do to make a difference:
- Contact your legislators to share your concerns and advocate for new and stronger laws.
- Applaud companies that are investing in solutions and ask those that are not to do better.
- Take full advantage of the options available to you, like municipal recycling, in-store recycling, and TerraCycle programs.
- Be a sustainability leader in your community. Educate community members about available options and become a TerraCycle public drop-off point.
- Buy less! The only silver bullet solution to the waste crisis is for us all to be conscious about our purchases and to vote for less waste by buying less.
These may seem like small actions when looked at individually, but they add up to a big collective impact. I can’t wait to see what we all accomplish together in 2023.
CEO and founder of TerraCycle
P.s. We’re always listening and learning. If you have comments, questions, or ideas you’d like to share, send me an email.