The Innovative Cycle of Terracycle

BY ERIN HERTOG

Wedge Organic Certification and Sustainability Coordinator

What do empty chip bags and used toothbrushes have in common? Well, they are both destined for the trash when we are done with them. But here at the Wedge they have a different future in common thanks to TerraCycle.

In 2016, Wedge shoppers recycled 24,514 chip bags and 6,586 pieces of used and emptied personal care items (including toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, floss containers, and deodorant containers) that would have otherwise been tossed in the trash. That’s 31,100 pieces (or about 455 pounds) of waste that was recycled instead of sent to the landfill or incinerated!

This accomplishment was made possible by our partnership with a company called TerraCycle. TerraCycle is a recycling company that collects hard-to-recycle material and finds innovative ways to reuse or recycle it.

TerraCycle offers more than 30 different collection programs; there’s a collection for water filters, different kinds of food wrappers, toothbrushes, and even guitar strings. Individuals and businesses alike can join a program for free and start collecting.

The Wedge Lyndale store participates in two TerraCycle collections. One is the personal care collection which accepts toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, floss containers, deodorant containers, mouthwash bottles, and plastic soap packaging. The second collection is for chip bags. The drop-off bins are located near the main entrance of the store. The Wedge Table also has a TerraCycle bin for the collection of chip bags.

As the Sustainability Coordinator, I manage the TerraCycle program at the Wedge. You may spot me on any given day with gloves on, digging through the bins. The material needs to be sorted to remove any unaccepted materials before shipping to TerraCycle. At TerraCycle’s processing facilities, the material is shredded into small pellets that can be used as raw material to make new products like bags, shoes, shower curtains, or picnic tables.

Thanks to our avid TerraCycle-ing shoppers, the program has been quite the success story. Since we began collecting TerraCycle material in 2013, we have seen collection quantities more than double each year. It has been exciting to watch the program grow; we started out with a small collection jar on a countertop, and four years later we are up to two full-sized bins that are filled weekly!

Quick Guide to the Terracycle Bins

The Personal Care Collection bin takes:

Toothbrushes

Toothpaste tubes

Floss containers

Deodorant containers

Mouthwash bottles

Plastic soap packaging

The Chip Bag collection takes:

Multi-pack chip bags

Individual chip bags

Family-size chip bags

To find more TerraCycle locations and recycling opportunities, visit  www.terracycle.com

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