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Solution for hard-to-recycle items: Terracycle

Monday, Jan. 6, 2014

Pens. Shoes. Make-up. Energy bar wrappers. In which bin do these items go?

These seemingly one-time use products bound for the landfill, though not allowed in our regular blue recycling containers, can still be recycled! Santa Clara University has signed up for several recycling collection brigades with Terracycle to help reduce the amount of waste from our campus that ends up in landfills.

Terracycle is a young and innovative company, established in 2001 by a Princeton University freshman named Tom Szaky who was using old soda bottles to hold and sell organic fertilizer. The company has grown since then and now includes 45 programs or “brigades” which collect specific items.

Terracycle diverts used products from the landfill and uses them to create new products. Also known as upcycling, this method is an alternative for products destined for the landfill, specifically ones that are not easily recycled. There are a wide variety of used materials accepted by Terracycle to create new products. Some projects include creating bags from Capri Sun pouches and developing playgrounds from old flip flops.

Of the 45 brigades that Terracycle offers, Santa Clara currently has four: personal care and beauty, paired shoes, energy bar wrapper, and writing instruments. There are collection sites located around campus for each brigade. You can drop off your personal care and beauty products at the Center for Sustainability, writing instruments at the Purchasing Department (located in the Facilities building) and writing instruments, paired shoes and energy bar wrappers at Pat Malley Fitness and Recreation Center.

Santa Clara has conducted several waste characterizations that show how much of the university’s waste can be diverted, especially single-use products. While we should avoid single-use products all together, Terracycle allows us to recycle these certain products, diverting them from landfill waste.

After Malley’s first waste characterization in 2012, Janice Demonsi, Director of Campus Recreation, initiated the implementation of Terracycle onto the Santa Clara campus after seeing a number of energy bar wrappers. “I had learned about TerraCycle from an Odwalla wrapper and had looked into it years earlier. I had a student coordinator look into [which] brigades were open and we signed up for energy bars and paired shoes.To date we have sent 4,000 wrappers to Terracyle and 25 pairs of paired shoes," shared DeMonsi.

Help Santa Clara become a zero-waste campus by using the Terracycle bins at each campus collection site! Learn more about Terracycle by visiting

Contributed by Julia Peters ‘15, Sustainability Intern, Athletics & Recreation 

Tags: Liaison Network, Program Highlights, Responsible Consumerism, Waste



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