28 November 2018 by Elizabeth Slow

Tackling complex packaging at TerraCycle

VIDEO REPORT: Beth Slow speaks to Laure Cucuron, general manager at TerraCycle Europe, about the company’s work on complex packaging. 

The team at specialist recycling firm, TerraCycle, believe their schemes for difficult to recycling packaging offer a solution for the here and now.

The UK division has recently launched a number of initiatives to recycle packaging, ranging from Pringles tubes, to oral hygiene products such as toothpaste tubes (see letsrecycle.com story).

And, Laure Cucuron general manager for Europe, says it has been a busy six months with public awareness growing around waste, and businesses looking for solutions to their packaging.

Below: Beth Slow speaks to Laure Cucuron, general manager of TerraCycle Europe

TerraCycle describes itself as an “innovative recycling company that has become a global leader in recycling typically hard-to-recycle waste”. The American company launched in 2009 and its UK operations are based in west London.

Stephen Clarke, head of communications for TerraCycle Europe reveals that over the past eight years which he has been with the business he has never known such an interest from the consumers, brands, and the media about what happens to materials at end of life.

“It’s a really exciting time for us,” Ms Cucuron adds.

With TerraCycle growing a name in the sector, the company finds that rather than having to pursue partnerships, it now works “both ways” which manufacturers coming to them for solutions.

Recycling

The packaging the company receives is sent to recycling warehouses, including a Suez-owned facility in Preston, where materials are broken down. From there, the recovered materials can be used for a range of products, such as benches and fence posts. TerraCycle has a network of strategic recycling partners which it works with, along with logistics firm UPS.

The majority of the material is recycled in the UK, Mr Clarke reveals. However, some material is sent to other European countries.

Mr Clarke explains that there are three major business aims for TerraCycle: eliminate avoidable waste; increase recyclability of packaging; and provide solutions for post-consumer waste.

Collection points for materials can be set up by members of the public

Some materials such as crisp packets can be sent to the company through the post. Collection points can also be set up by both businesses and members of the public. TerraCycle rewards the public with points which convert to charitable donations.

So far, just over 1,000 public project locations have been set up, with £675,000 raised for chosen charities.

And, in terms of extending collection systems to the kerbside, Ms Cucuron said it is an idea the company is keen to explore further in the future.

Economics

Ms Cucuron explains that the schemes are financed by TerraCycle’s business partners, which makes recycling these items affordable. “TerraCycle really focusses on those types of materials which are called hard to recycle, difficult to recycle, and it’s really down to economics. So when you take the costs of collection, shipping, the cost of recycle, these costs are usually higher than the value of the recycled materials.

“So it’s thanks to companies, our partners, the brands we work with that we can create these new collection and recycling programmes.”

Related links
TerraCycle

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