Why are TerraCycle programs free but Zero Waste Boxes have a cost?

At TerraCycle, we offer both free and paid recycling solutions. Sometimes people wonder why some of our offerings are free and others aren’t. Here’s everything you need to know! 

How can I recycle with TerraCycle?

You’ve got options for recycling with us:

Learn about the others ways we’re working to eliminate the idea of waste

How are free recycling programs free? 

TerraCycle’s free recycling programs are free to you because they are sponsored by brands, manufacturers, and retailers who cover the cost of shipping and recycling. It’s easy to participate. Just sign up for a TerraCycle account, join the programs you’d like to participate in, and then start collecting accepted rubbish. Download a prepaid label to send your full box to us for recycling.

Why do Zero Waste Boxes cost money? 

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.  

You can pick the perfect box for your needs, making it simple to #RecycleEverything.

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

Why isn’t all recycling free?

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

At TerraCycle, we can accept items you can’t recycle municipally (including cigarette butts, toys, mascara wands, and much more) because our brand partners cover the cost (in the case of free recycling programs) or you do (when you purchase a Zero Waste Box). Still have questions? Visit our online Help Center to find answers to dozens of questions or connect directly with a customer service representative.

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