Schools get cash for trash

Looking for fundraiser ideas for your child’s school? A program designed to help raise cash while reducing the amount of non-recyclable trash generated by your school and school community that would otherwise head to landfill could be worth considering.

Earlier this week, I published an article provided by Terracycle on how to make a toothbrush holder out of old toothpaste tubes – an example of upcycling.

I remember hearing about Terracycle a few times over the years, so I decided to take a bit of a closer look today.

TerraCycle makes products from a wide range of different non-recyclable waste materials. The company was founded in 2001 by a 19 year old Princeton University freshman named Tom Szaky who was inspired by a worm farm he saw while on Fall break.

Originally just producing organic fertilizer in reused soda bottles, the company now makes over 100 different products from the trash they receive; including fences, coolers, clipboards, recycling bins, tote bags and earth friendly fire starters. The products are sold in numerous stores including Target, Walmart, Home Depot and Kmart.

So where does Terracycle get the trash from to make these products? One important channel are their national collection programs that pay non-profits and schools to collect used packaging such as drink pouches, wrappers, yoghurt cups, cookie wrappers, chip bags and more. A lot of this sort of packaging can’t be put out for kerbside recycling, so usually winds up in landfill.

At the time of writing, Terracycle had received over 1.8 billion pieces of trash and had paid over 1.2 million dollars to schools and non-profits.

Terracycle has programs in the USA, Canada, Brazil, Mexico and the UK. Schools and non-profits can sign up here.