In the past two to three years International recycling company TerraCycle has doubled its employees in Australia and New Zealand to around 25, employing close to 500 people internationally.
Part of its focus has been on difficult to recycle items by making collection points more accessible to the public.
With minimal disruption to its operations during COVID-19, the company’s Australian branch has forged ahead with plans for more “community collection hubs” in retail stores, supermarkets, schools and offices.
This year the company also plans to roll out a major reusable packaging scheme with Woolworths, which has already attracted major brand partnerships overseas.
It has engaged with local companies over the past 12 months to install collection points in all David Jones and Mecca stores to collect beauty products, as well as in limited Rip Curl outlets to collect and recycle old wetsuits, Big W for collecting old toys and Woolworths for used coffee capsules.
Several high profile companies continue to sponsor free recycling programs to collect products linked with their business, such as Gillette with razors and Colgate with old toothpaste tubes.
General manager of the company in Australia and New Zealand, Jean Bailliard explained that one of the keys for those programs to work was that companies collect entire categories of recyclable programs rather than just their own brand.
The approach is informed by research that showed the main drivers of whether people will recycle are if it is easy, and if they can see others doing the same thing.
“The success of our programs largely relies on a strong network of Community Collection Hubs that is easily accessible for the community to drop off their waste,” Bailliard said.
“We’re always looking for optimal locations to make recycling easy and convenient – for example, as people return to work, office blocks could look at incorporating our free recycling programs as part of their waste management processes, local councils could include the programs in public spaces such as, libraries or leisure centres.”
Another growing section of the company are Zero Waste Boxes that are designed to act as a “turn key” solution for a wider range of businesses and organisations to purchase directly and implement collection for waste streams that apply best for them such as office supplies or face masks.
The company subcontracts workers to hand-sort the waste they collect into various categories which they then store until there is a large enough amount to ship to a third party processor.
The company tries to recycle as much of the waste as possible within Australia, however some of the items that require more specialised treatment are sent to the US for processing.
Plans this year are to officially launch Loop in Australia, a reuse platform that is already underway in Europe and the US, allowing consumers to shop using reusable containers rather than single use packaging.
The company revealed in 2019 it had an exclusive partnership with Woolworths to implement the program whereby customers return reusable containers to the supermarket to be washed and reused once they are finished with them.
Loop will initially be available for a variety of selected products including groceries, cleaning products, personal care and beauty. These will include Woolworths’ own brands, as well as others that sign on to the scheme.
“Our customers are increasingly telling us they want products that are good for them, and good for the planet,” Woolworths general manager of quality, health and sustainability, Alex Holt said when the scheme was announced.
“We are pleased to be working with innovative partners like TerraCycle to lead the way in offering new and cutting-edge solutions to cut down on plastic waste.”
Consumers can register their interest in the program with Woolworths to be kept up to date with the development of the rollout.