The founder of TerraCycle, a Trenton-based company that makes new products from formerly unrecyclable goods, was set to speak at the University of the Arts Tuesday evening.
Tom Szaky’s message is that almost everything can be recycled. For about 70 percent of what we buy, such as plastic juice pouches or toothbrushes, it is just more expensive to separate out the different materials and process them than throw them away. However, that cost-benefit ratio changes if trash is presorted.
“A toothbrush is made from certain types of plastic and rubber for the handle, and if you just have lots of toothbrushes, you can very easily separate out those materials,” Szaky said. “But if it’s just mixed in with a lot of garbage, then it’s just impossible to do that.”
Szaky advocates a future where we sort out each type of waste and figure out ways to re-use those raw materials, instead of accepting trash as inevitable.
“You’re gonna have your blue box, your recycling box that is recyclable by the municipality, and then you might have another box that say a company like TerraCycle can accept,” Szaky said. “That way we can ideally eliminate the entire idea of garbage.”
Szaky’s company works with schools and other groups in 13 countries to collect and separate waste materials such as Capri Sun juice pouches or chip bags. His company then refashions the materials into new products such as purses and park benches.