The History of TerraCycle

From our humble beginnings harvesting worm poop, TerraCycle has evolved into a global circular economy growth company. We continuously innovate solutions for Eliminating the Idea of Waste®.

2022

2019 to Today: Reuse, the Next Frontier

TerraCycle closed out the decade by unveiling Loop, a platform for reuse that allows any brand to create reusable versions of their product packaging and for any retailer to make those available to consumers.

In 2020, TerraCycle launched the TerraCycle Global Foundation, which works to remove plastic from rivers and canals before it can reach the ocean.

In 2021, we launched SalonCycle in the US, a simple way to recycle all salon waste. We also produced all of the Tokyo Olympics podiums by recycling trash collected by Japanese consumers. In response to demand from our collector community, we introduced our own line of products, TerraCycle Made, made from the trash we recycle together.

2018

2013 to 2018: Growing Around the Globe

In 2013, TerraCycle expanded to Australia and New Zealand, marking over 20 countries of operation. The following year, we launched our Zero Waste Box division, bringing recycling solutions to a much wider range of waste. We continued our global expansion with the launch of TerraCycle Japan. That same year, TerraCycle signed a TV deal with Pivot for TerraCycle’s TV show Human Resources, which premiered in August 2014.

In 2016, in the US, we launched our first industrial recycling program, recycling adhesive packaging with Henkel. To strengthen our business-to-business capabilities by expanding into regulated waste recycling services, we made our first acquisition in 2018. We also launched our materials division, creating packaging and products out of waste gathered from the ocean, rock-and-roll festivals, and beyond.

2012

2007 to 2012: Recycling the Unrecyclable

In 2007, to expand the range of waste TerraCycle was able to collect and convert, we introduced brand-sponsored recycling programs. First was the Drink Pouch Brigade, which was followed by programs to collect and recycle energy bar wrappers and yogurt cups.

By 2009, 25 new programmes had been added, and TerraCycle had expanded to Brazil, Canada, and the UK. By 2010, the Drink Pouch Recycling Programme had collected and recycled over 50 million drink pouches, and over $1 million had been raised by our collector community through our TerraCycle points programme.

In 2011, TerraCycle expanded to Norway, Spain, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Over 30 new recycling programmes were launched, and total staff grew to over 100 team members.

2006

2001 to 2006: The Worm Poop Years

As a freshman at Princeton University, Tom Szaky started TerraCycle to help eliminate the idea of waste by making worm poop plant food from leftover cafeteria waste.

Our first product was not only made from waste (feeding organic waste to worms) but also packaged in waste (used soda bottles).

Before long, TerraCycle Worm Poop Plant Food was being sold by major retailers, including The Home Depot, Target, and Walmart, and the company set up its headquarters in Trenton, NJ.

Read more about our early history in Tom Szaky’s book Revolution in a Bottle.