02 - Interview with Tom Szaky- founder of Terracycle and Loop
Updated: Apr 7
Very inspiring talk with Tom Szaky - one of the pioneers of modern waste management and recycling.
Tom Szaky is founder and CEO of TerraCycle, a global leader in the collection and repurposing of complex waste streams. TerraCycle operates in 21 countries, working with some of the world’s largest brands, retailers and manufacturers to create national platforms to recycle products and packaging that currently go to landfill or incineration. In 2019, the company’s net sales were $27.12 million, up 35% from 2018, according to the report. Its net income was $3.24 million, up from $1.15 million in 2018.
Through TerraCycle, Tom is creating circular solutions for hundreds of waste streams such as cigarette butts, dirty diapers and used chewing gum that otherwise have no path to be recycled. TerraCycle operates the largest supply chain for ocean plastic in the world, partnering with companies to integrate this material into their packaging.
In January 2019, TerraCycle, along with 25 top consumer products companies and retailers announced a new circular shopping platform called Loop that will enable consumers to shop for some of their favorite brands in durable, reusable packaging.
Source of Introtext: https://www.greenbiz.com/tom-szaky
Here you can find a good overview of Terracycles services: https://www.terracycle.com/en-US/about-terracycle
In the podcast we talk about his personal motivation to found TerraCycle almost 20 years ago as fertilizer company out of organic waste.
His motivation to become in entrepreneur sparked during a Princeton college class, when the teacher ask what is the purpose of a business?
Hopeful for the answer, however he received the following statement: "Maximize Profit for shareholders".
Uninspired he left Princeton university after 1 year and found Terracycle - a mission driven company to create value out of the waste of human kind.
In our talk he shares facts about waste management and recycling management and surprised with one statement
"in the end everything will be owned by a waste company. Everything which once belong to someone, even Mona-Lisa - however it is the least innovated industry by USD in the world."
The Loop founder illustrates how to use reusable containers (shampoos, etc.) also as an ecommerce player when you don't have retail stores. He also debugs the myth that the CO2 footprint of transportation is very high in consumer perception but the production of a new item is way higher.
He also states that greenwashing is extremely dangerous for producers and retailers in that sense that small achievements are getting pumped up in Marketing out of scale.
"You should not be afraid to make something (sustainable) small, but just don't make it look like it is big!"
Tom also shares in the podcast how a retailer or producer can start its journey to get more sustainable without loosing the customer and employees by engaging customer first.
In the end, we will talk about reusable shampoo containers or other containers and when are they really sustainable and when not.
You can also listen to this podcast at Apple Podcast, Google Podcast or other major podcast distributors.