TerraCycle founder and CEO Tom Szaky has a lot of big thoughts about garbage. “Garbage is such an interesting idea,” he muses. “Everything we possess in the world will one day be owned by a garbage company, with no exception. That in itself is a massive statement. But for how big that is, isn’t it incredible how un-innovative the industry is? I think it is because garbage is literally smelly, and nasty. We don’t want to deal with it.”

Despite the product’s yuck factor, Szaky found a way to make it profitable. He launched TerraCycle in 2001 as a freshman at Princeton, producing rich plant food by feeding red worms with the garbage from the university’s cafeterias. Before long, TerraCycle was a $5 million brand on the shelves of The Home Depot and Walmart across North America.

The goal was to “eliminate the idea of waste,” not only by serving it up to worms so they could poop out the company’s product, but also by packaging it in soda bottles and spray tops plucked from the waste stream. It was this second part of the equation that led Szaky to the idea that would propel TerraCycle into a global enterprise. The growing company needed more and more packaging to meet its needs, so it established “Bottle Brigades,” essentially campaigns to get consumers to round up the bottles and tops needed to fill the supply chain.

To read the full story, visit https://www.worth.com/terracycle-tom-szaky-garbage-hero-100-million-dollar-business/.
Author: Lewis Schiff, Worth
Image: Stas Knop, Pexels