This Company Makes $20 Million In Sales From Garbage But Limits Its Profit To 1% Of Revenue

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Eco entrepreneur Tom Szaky believes some of the profits reported by the corporate world are absurd.

His own company, TerraCycle, has given $20 million to charities over ten years and each year processes 50 million kilograms of waste.

This year the company, with 120 staff, will bring in $25 million or more but will only keep 1% as profit.

“Profit is important to stay healthy but we focus very much on growth and bringing more impact around the world as we can,” Szaky told Business Insider Australia.

He’s written a book called Outsmart Waste which says the solution isn’t companies such as TerraCycle, it’ about people choosing to buy smartly.

He wrote the book to try to inspire entrepreneurs to model of the social for profit company.

“We’re making real revenues under a capitalistic context but creating very meaningful social and environmental change,” he say.

He describes TerraCycle as a pill you take to treat but not cure a problem.

“There’s cigarette butt waste because people choose to smoke and it wouldn’t exist if people stopped smoking,” he says.

“Cigarettes are the most littered item in the world. About 4.5 trillion cigarettes are littered around the world every year. It’s about 37% of roadway litter.”

Szaky is in Sydney to launch a recycling program to help eliminate cigarette waste.

More than 6,000 Australia Post satchels have been circulated for Clean Up Australia events today.

This allows volunteers to safely collect cigarette waste and send it to TerraCycle, without charge, to be recycled.

Beyond clean up day, the program will continue.

Any group, workplace or individual over the age of 18 can sign-up to the Waste Brigade and collect cigarette waste at home or work

The waste is sent to TerraCycle, at no cost, to have it recycled into industrial products such as plastic shipping pallets and railway sleepers.

For every kilogram of cigarette waste TerraCycle receives, $2 is donated to the collectors’ nominated charity.

TerraCycle’s Cigarette Waste Brigade programs run in eight other countries.

Cigarette butts are not biodegradable and do not break down quickly.

Tobacco companies, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco Australia and Philip Morris Ltd, are providing funding to run the program.

TerraCycle Australia will also collect other difficult to recycle waste streams, working with major brands:

  • Colgate to recycle used toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and other oral care waste
  • Natures Organics to recycle used cleaning, laundry and beauty packaging waste
  • Nespresso to expand its recycling program for coffee capsules.

Tom Szaky will be speaking at the University of Sydney tomorrow (March 3) and in Melbourne March 5.

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