Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle and author of Revolution in a Bottle: How TerraCycle is Redefining Green Business, will be a featured speaker during Penn State’s Earth Days. TerraCycle collects trash and turns it into reusable items.
Szaky was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1982, He emigrated with his family as political refugees from Hungary to the Netherlands and eventually to Toronto. Szaky headed to the United States to attend Princeton University in 2001. While at Princeton as a 19 year-old freshman, he started his first venture with the intent to eliminate waste. Originally, he produced an organic fertilizer using worm excrement, which he bottled and sold.
Currently, his company TerraCycle is creating systems for previously non-recyclable or hard-to-recycle items such as candy wrappers, yogurt cups, and cigarette butts that usually would end up in a landfill. These items are now used in making messenger bags, pallets, and more available at major retailers including The Home Depot, Walmart, RadioShack, Best Buy, Toys 'R Us, Whole Foods Market, OfficeMax, Petco, Urban Outfitters, and Target.
Today, TerraCycle partners with major consumer goods manufacturers such as Kraft Foods, Frito-Lay, Mars, Kashi, Kimberly-Clark, SC Johnson, Nestle, L’Oreal and many more to run a comprehensive network of individuals, schools and organizations who get paid to help collect non-recyclable packaging. Over 70,000 locations and 22 million participants called, Brigades, help TerraCycle to collect their trash and save it from the landfill. Over 2 billion pieces of pre- and post- consumer packaging have been collected and over 2 million dollars have been donated to schools and non-profits. Inc. Magazine’s annual ranking of the fastest growing private companies in America listed TerraCycle in the top 200 in 2010, moving from the 288th spot, and was also listed in the top 10 consumer goods companies. In 2011, TerraCycle ranked in the top 50 consumer goods companies and at #928 on the Inc 5000 list.
Currently, at Penn State, there are 10 Green Teams with TerraCycle Brigades. Green Teams are groups of faculty, staff and students who volunteer to take specific actions to help their units operate in efficient, innovative and healthy ways by “greening” their workspaces.
Szaky’s lecture is sponsored by the Smeal College of Business and will be April 18 from 6:00-7:00 pm, in 105 Forum building. Visit the Earth Day site for a full schedule of events.