Who is TerraCycle, and what do we do?

TerraCycle is an international leader in innovative sustainability solutions. We’ve been creating and operating first-of-their-kind platforms in recycling, recycled content, and reuse for 20 years. Recycling rubbish that’s typically considered ‘unrecyclable’ is at the core of our mission.

Determining whether or not something is ‘recyclable’ comes down to one question: can those recycling the rubbish earn a profit when selling on the raw materials that are the end result of the recycling process?

If the costs of logistics (collection, transport, handling and storage) and processing (cleaning, shredding and material conversion) are less than the value of the recycled material, then that item is deemed to be ‘practically’ recyclable. This is the case with most of the packaging you can put in your municipal (aka kerbside) recycling.

On the flipside, if it costs more to recycle an item than what that processed material will sell for, then most waste management companies won’t accept it. It’s not that it can’t be recycled; it simply isn’t profitable for them to do so.

Woman with orange jumper on shoulders looking at phone surrounded by rubbish that she's sorting into recycling categories.

TerraCycle can recycle the ‘unrecyclable’ because we work with brands, retailers and other stakeholders who are willing to fund the process of recycling hard-to-recycle items. We consider this ‘voluntary extended producer responsibility’.

This funding allows our research and development teams to explore ways to recycle all manner of complex waste streams by developing new processes and formulations, and consulting with processing facilities to fine-tune the process. Our R&D team performs tests to analyse material composition, then identifies existing processes and technologies that can be linked in innovative ways to recycle that material. Then, our Materials Solutions team finds the right recyclers to process the material, and, ultimately, determines appropriate applications for the recycled material.

TerraCycle collects and recycles hundreds of different waste streams across 21 countries, which results in a complex supply chain. We guarantee that all the accepted waste collected through our programs is recycled. Our clients are offered Certificates of Recycling, and our contracted partners are invited to audit our supply chains either directly or via independent third parties.

As well as partnering with organisations and brands to help them recycle on a large scale, we also help them integrate recycled content into their products, and shift to reusable packaging. And to bring solutions to the most challenging waste environments in the world, we launched The TerraCycle Global Foundation, which in its first year, pulled nearly one million pounds of waste out of the rivers and canals in Thailand.

How to recycle with TerraCycle

There a three simple routes you can take to become a TerraCycler:  

  1. Sign up for our free recycling programs as a private collector 

Any household, individual, business or school can sign up as a private collector for our free recycling programs in Australia and New Zealand. Once you’re signed up, start collecting rubbish accepted in the relevant program. When you’ve filled up a cardboard box (check program web pages for shipment weight requirements), print a shipping label from the TerraCycle website, affix it to the box and post it to TerraCycle for recycling.

  1. Use TerraCycle public drop-off points (or create your own) for free

You can find TerraCycle public drop-off points at local businesses, schools, shopping centres and community hubs, run by individuals committed to enabling others to recycle. These  addresses and contact details can be found on the TerraCycle map. Anyone can drop off rubbish for recycling at a public drop-off point, where administrators organise shipping to TerraCycle. Be sure to check which programs the drop-off point is gathering items for, as well as their public opening hours before you visit. 

If you’d like to recycle rubbish for your community, you can become a public drop-off point. To do so, you’ll need to update your TerraCycle account with the relevant public-facing information and request to join free recycling programs as a public drop-off point. The TerraCycle team will review this and once approved, your public drop-off point will be added to the map.

  1. Purchase a Zero Waste Box

TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Boxes are a pre-paid solution that enables individuals, business and community groups to recycle even more. When TerraCycle develops local systems to recycle new waste streams that don’t have a corresponding free recycling program, you can fund the recycling process directly by purchasing a Zero Waste Box. The upfront cost covers the entire process including production and shipping of the box, as well as sorting, cleaning, processing and recycling its contents. 

Whether you’re looking to recycle disposable facemasks, coffee capsules, worn-out wetsuits, tired toys, empty beauty products or almost any other hard-to-recycle rubbish, there’s a TerraCycle solution to help you keep these items out of landfills.

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