The ultimate goal of recycling is to avoid using virgin materials to make new products and to instead use raw materials made from discarded items. 

Whether or not your local recycling company will accept something comes down to a business equation: If the cost of collecting and processing the waste is higher than the value of the resulting material, the recycling company won’t profit, so it probably won’t accept it.

We call trash that local recycling companies won’t accept “hard-to-recycle” or “unrecyclable” items.

For example, an item might be hard-to-recycle because of its color. The recycled materials from a green plastic toy, for example, can’t be used to make a clear water bottle because the green plastic can’t be made clear again. Varied colors limit the market, making those materials less valuable. 

At TerraCycle, we can recycle the unrecyclable because we work with brands, retailers, and other stakeholders who fund the recycling process. Once we receive a shipment, we sort the trash based on material characteristics. Then we sort and process the trash into raw materials. We sell the raw material to manufacturers, who turn them into new products and complete the recycling journey. 

When you send your trash to us for recycling, it follows a strictly monitored chain of custody before reaching manufacturers. Packages are checked in and assessed, then materials are sorted by type, cleaned, and processed into raw materials.

See our process in action with beauty waste.

Depending on the material and manufacturer, end products could include: 

Daily-use products

Your trash can be made into products that you may find yourself using on a daily basis. A bench at your favorite park, a garden bed in a community garden, or even a simple storage container—all of these can be made using the raw materials obtained from trash that you helped to collect and recycle!

TerraCycle Made products

We have our own line of products made from recycled materials: TerraCycle Made. In our shop, you can purchase items like watering cans, planters, totes and travel cases, and more! Purchases from the TerraCycle Global Foundation collection go directly to waterway cleanup in Thailand. Shop confidently knowing you’re purchasing sustainably-made products.

Visit our TerraCycle Made shop.

Industrial products and construction materials

We also recycle trash into items that you may not use—or even see—on a regular basis, like piping and conduit. It can even be recycled into flooring and decking. The waste you recycle with TerraCycle could end up right under your feet!  

Head to the TerraCycle website to learn more about how you can recycle the unrecyclable and give trash a new purpose.

2 thoughts on “How TerraCycle recycles your trash into new products

  1. My local supermarket recycles plastic bags and related flexible, stretchable plastic wrapping and sends it to TREX. My municipal refuse allows food and beverage containers that are labeled 1-7. All that is accepted free of charge (except local taxes) Are you able to recycle other plastic, such as non- stretchable wrapping and plastic toys or other plastic waste that do not have the numbers 1-7?

Leave a Reply