Brands that have previously signed up to the program include Kraft, Nestle and L’Oreal in the UK and Canada but the company now wants to penetrate the Asian market with New Zealand being top of the list.
Founder and CEO Tom Szaky said TerraCycle already operates in 23 countries but New Zealand would be a great starting point to launch in the Asia market.
“From there, we want to expand into countries that are a little bit more complex and language is more of a challenge," he added.
“TerraCycle's New Zealand operation will start out by collecting used confectionery wrappers and turning them into new products in a process called ‘upcycling’, creating a fabric by squeezing it together, to sell fun things like a bag, and so on.”
Mondelez, which owns Cadbury, has offered to finance the upcycle of confectionary packaging. Szaky added most material which is seen as non-recyclable can be re-used but the only barrier is cost.
He said the company makes things that you can't put in your normal council or municipal recycling container, about 80% of objects that we consume, from a pen to a piece of chewing gum to confectionery packaging.
The collected waste is then converted into new products, ranging from recycled park benches to upcycled backpacks.
It currently runs a national cigarette recycling program in nine countries around the world. It collects them, shreds each one and separates the organic compounds, such as ash, tobacco and paper from the inorganic components, which is the filter and the plastic packaging around the box.
“When you look at any form of waste – whether it’s a dirty nappy, cigarette butt or confectionary package, you have to look what it’s made from. About 4% of the waste we receive is recycled. The rest is dealt with using traditional recycling techniques,” said Szaky.
“The organics are composted, and the inorganics are made into a plastic that can then be made into industrial plastic products.”
Nestlé Canada partnered with TerraCycle to form the ‘Chocolate Wrapper Brigade’, where participants return their wrappers free of charge to TerraCycle to be upcycled into eco-friendly items such as tote bags, kites, backpacks which are then sold in shops.
While Kraft brands, including Balance bars and South Beach Living bars, Capri Sun beverages, Chips Ahoy! and Oreo cookies belong to the TerraCycle Cheese Packaging and Dairy Tub Brigades.