Tom Szaky TerraCycle

#150: Circular Economy for Waste Management


The most powerful decision you make is the decision for what you should and should not buy. — Tom Szaky

How much of the things you buy do you really need?

Every day our waste piles up. Ninety-nine percent of what we purchase – we don’t really need.

The world is suffering because of our actions. Poorly-managed landfills cause litter. Incinerating waste produces toxic substances.

These are some problems we are faced with when it comes to waste management. Stemming from these issues are people devoted to finding creative solutions in address these problems.

On today’s episode of Sustainable, I talk about the work that TerraCycle is doing to better manage our waste and recycle the unrecyclable with Tom Szaky.

Tom is the founder and CEO of TerraCycle, a global leader in the collection and repurposing of hard to recycle waste. He is also the author of three books Revolution in A Bottle, Outsmart Waste, and Make Garbage Great and contributed to The Future of Packaging.

Through TerraCycle, Tom is pioneering a new waste management involving manufacturers and consumers to create circular solutions for hundreds of unrecyclable waste (e.g. cigarette butts, dirty diapers, used chewing gum and flexible food packaging).

TerraCycle along with 25 top consumer product company and retailers, have announced a new e-commerce shopping platform called Loop. This will enable consumers to shop online for their favorite brands in durable and reusable packaging.

Tom and TerraCycle have received hundreds of social, environmental, and business awards and recognition from a  range of organizations including the United Nations, the US Chamber of Commerce, Fortune Magazine, World Economic Forum, and The Swap Foundation.

Tom shares how our garbage is continuously impacting the environment in a negative way. He talks about eliminating the idea of waste through creative and innovative solutions – which is the goal to achieve a sustainable planet.

In this episode you will learn:
  • The learnings that have helped TerraCycle become a pioneer in waste management
  • What caused the success of TerraCycle
  • Innovative and creative methods for waste management
  • Changing our perspective towards waste management to unlock other important values
  • The TerraCycle and Loop project and its essence
  • Reimagining the way that we consume
  • Working with consumer behaviour instead of fighting it
  • The future of packaging
  • The reality behind biodegradable packaging
  • The challenges of the Environmental Movement
  • What you can do to lessen your waste
  • How the act of buying triggers every environmental issue
  • Active buying as a solution
  • How he manages to get organizations, especially the large ones, to center on the environment
  • How focusing on sustainability impacted the way he lives his daily life
  • How his experience with nature influenced and impacted the work that he is doing
  • The most powerful tool to create solutions and change

Reducing waste means less environmental impact, fewer resources and energy used. And most of all, it saves you money!



    More about Tom Szaky

    Tom Szaky is founder and CEO of TerraCycle, a global leader in the collection and repurposing of hard-to-recycle waste. TerraCycle operates in 21 countries, working with some of the world’s largest brands, retailers, cities and manufacturers to create national platforms to recycle products and packaging that currently go to landfill or incineration.

    Through TerraCycle, Tom is pioneering new waste management processes involving manufacturers and consumers to create circular solutions for hundreds of waste streams such as cigarette butts, laboratory waste, used coffee capsules, dirty diapers, used chewing gum and flexible food packaging that no path to be recycled. TerraCycle developed and operates the largest supply chain for ocean plastic in the world, partnering with companies like Procter & Gamble to integrate this material into their product packages.

    In January 2019, TerraCycle, along with 25 top consumer products companies and retailers announced a new e-commerce shopping platform called Loop that will enable consumers to shop for some of their favorite brands in durable, reusable packaging. Launched in May 2019, Loop is a key step in helping to end the epidemic of waste that is caused by ‘single use’ consumption.

    Tom and TerraCycle have received hundreds of social, environmental and business awards and recognition from a range of organizations including the United Nations, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Fortune Magazine, World Economic Forum and the Schwab Foundation.

    Connect with Tom Szaky
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