TerraCycle's Environmental Benefit
TerraCycle diverts billions of pieces of rubbish from our landfills and incinerators (both of these options produce added carbon and other greenhouse gases) and either upcycles or recycles the waste into new products, which reduces the need for new materials to be extracted from our planet.
Click the map to the left see where all of TerraCycle’s current collection points are.
We encourage you to sign up and become a new collection point:
Before TerraCycle non-recyclable waste would be either sent to a landfill or a an incineration facility. Both of these options emit carbon and produce either limited or no environmental benefits.
Once you start collecting with TerraCycle your non-recyclable waste will be either recycled or upcycled. To make the cycle truly cradle to cradle, once the converted products become waste you can send them back to TerraCycle via the original Brigade programme the product originated from.
Quantifying the environmental benefit
There are two main areas where TerraCycle brings benefit to our planet. First the environmental benefit of collecting and recycling/upcycling previously non-recyclable waste and second the social benefit of the over £1 million that has been paid to date by TerraCycle to charities around the world.
When making a product, typically the largest contributing factor to carbon impact is the extraction of the raw materials from the earth and the refinement of those materials into a usable material. For example, when making a plastic rubbish bin the primary carbon impact of that product is extracting petroleum from the earth and refining it into plastic. Or when making a cotton pencil case the primary impact is growing cotton plants and weaving that into a coloured woven textile that can be sewn. When we make a pencil case from Kenco eco refill bags (upcycling), we can replace the cotton with coffee bags (a material which is waste and hence doesn’t require new raw materials). Or when we make a plant pot from Tassimo TDISCs (recycling) we can replace virgin plastic with TDISCs. When you subtract the carbon impact of collecting the waste to begin with there is typically a major carbon saving.
The environmental benefit of Recycling:
In the case of a juice pouch, sending a juice pouch to a landfill creates just over 0.5g of carbon per pouch. If one were to incinerate the pouch and recover energy it creates just over 6g of carbon per pouch (including accounting for the energy made). If one recycles the pouch, for example into plastic lumber, then the carbon savings (not cost) are just over 13g of carbon per pouch (when comparing against virgin plastic).
The environmental benefit of Upcycling:
Extending the example above. If one were to upcycle the pouches, for example into a pencil case, then the carbon savings are around 190g of carbon per pouch (when comparing against a cotton pencil case).
*All carbon cost/savings numbers were independently determined via numerous LCA’s (Life Cycle Analysis) funded by TerraCycle. It is important to note that these numbers assume for global transportation to and from manufacturing facilities and the carbon cost of collecting the waste via TerraCycle’s national collection networks.
TerraCycle’s new points programme will soon allow you to contribute your earnings to specific charitable actions, ranging from saving rainforests to giving clean water. Find out more about the points programme by clicking here.