At TerraCycle, our customers sometimes ask questions about our Zero Waste Boxes and recycling process. See below for answers to frequently asked questions that we receive about recycling with us!

Why are TerraCycle programs free, but Zero Waste Boxes cost money? 

At TerraCycle, we offer both free and paid recycling solutions. Our free recycling programs are sponsored by brands, manufacturers, and retailers who cover the cost of shipping and recycling, making it possible for you to recycle for free! Zero Waste Boxes are available for purchase to recycle almost any type of trash. You can pick the perfect box for your needs, making it simple to #RecycleEverything.

The cost of a Zero Waste Box™ reflects the production of the box; transportation to you and then back to our recycling facilities; and the actual cost of sorting, cleaning, processing, and recycling the contents. In short, it’s a lot more than just a cardboard box!

It costs money to transport and process items into new material. Your municipal recycling is paid for by your taxes and mitigated by any revenue the recyclers can earn from the items they collect—this is why you can only put items in your curbside bin that recyclers can make a profit on. 

From snack packaging, to toys, mascara wands, and much more… At TerraCycle, we can accept items you can’t recycle locally either because we have a brand partner covering the associated costs (in the case of free recycling programs) or because you do when you purchase a Zero Waste Box. 

Check out this video overview of how we process the items you send in a Zero Waste Box. 

What is my trash turned into?

After your trash is recycled into secondary raw material, it is sold to manufacturing companies to produce end products and complete the journey of recycling. These new products include outdoor furniture and decking, plastic shipping pallets, watering cans, storage containers and bins, tubes for construction applications, flooring tiles, athletic fields, playground surface covers, and more! We recommend supporting companies that use recycled materials in their products; the less we extract from the earth, the better. 

How can I trust my trash is actually recycled? 

TerraCycle’s mission is Eliminating the Idea of Waste®, and we guarantee that we recycle all the accepted waste sent to us. All shipments of waste are sent to a TerraCycle Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in the same country in which the waste originates. 

We strictly control the movement of materials during each part of the recycling process so we can track and confirm where materials were sent and for what purpose. Bureau Veritas—a world leader in testing, inspection, and certification services—recently concluded an audit of our collection and recycling supply chain for multiple high-volume waste streams collected in North America (based on the Recycled Claim Standard) and France, and is now replicating this audit in the UK and Canada. Through this process, we gained formal certification to the RCS.   

Visit our website to learn more about how we are Eliminating the Idea of Waste®, or find out more about our recycling process by clicking here.

Why can’t I fill any old cardboard box and send it to you? 

Our Zero Waste Boxes have been specially designed to provide essential tracking and accepted waste information to ensure that your trash is properly recycled, this is why we require you to use one from our online store

Do you recycle the actual Zero Waste Box?

One of the most frequent questions we get asked is: do you recycle the box, inner box liner, and shipment bag that the box arrives in? And the answer is yes, absolutely! 

Once we’ve emptied out your Zero Waste Box, the cardboard box, plastic liner, and shipment bag (to be placed inside your box for recycling once unpacked) are sorted and recycled just like the rest of your trash. Also, our boxes are SFI certified.

Why does my box arrive wrapped in plastic? 

The reason the box arrives wrapped in plastic is to ensure it doesn’t get damaged during shipping. A damaged box would mean you might not be able to safely send your trash back to us to be recycled. The plastic is made from 80% recycled polyethylene and can be recycled in your Zero Waste Box. 

We are actively working on an alternative solution which would allow us to remove this plastic wrapping. Stay tuned to learn more about our reusable shipping bag—it’s in the testing phase! 

Why are there so many different Zero Waste Boxes?

The answer lies in sortation! Boxes that accept multiple types of waste, like the All-In-One Zero Waste Box, require labor-intensive manual sortation to sort through the different types of trash. Waste stream-specific boxes like the Plastic Packaging Zero Waste Box require a lot less. Fewer steps in the sortation process mean less cost for us, and we pass the savings on to you. 

That said, there’s a reason the All-In-One Zero Waste Box is our best-seller: convenience! Customers tell us they like the convenience of purchasing one box to #RecycleEverything.  

Visit our Zero Waste Box FAQ page for more information. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch via email at We’re here to help!

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