Meeting with…Tom Szaky, General Manager of TerraCycle
On the eve of the launch of the Loop e-commerce platform, zoom on TerraCycle programs. And on their connections with the luxury markets.
- TerraCycle offers a large number of free recycling programs: how many are available worldwide today?
We count more than 200 free recycling programmes around the world with 70 programmes for Europe. 202,831,611 people recycle with us across the world and 7,762,174,415 pieces of waste have been diverted by TerraCycle instead of incinerating it and landfilling it.
- TerraCycle collects and recycles waste that is difficult to recycle: in the luxury industry, which segments are most involved?
We work more with cosmetics brands than the other branches of the luxury industry like fragrances or wines and spirits. Those luxury products usually come in a glass bottles or flacons which mean that they can be recycle by the traditional recycling stream. Several cosmetics brands partner with TerraCycle to offer a free recycling solution to their customers. For instance, L’Occitane-en-Provence launched an in store take back scheme in UK, in France, in the US. We also partner with Garnier in UK and the US and with Maybelline in Japan. But I would say we work mostly with food companies like Harrys for the Bread packaging Recycling Programme and domestic products brands like in the Febreze recycling Programme.
- Overall, is France a “good student”?
France is one of our main markets in Europe, just behind UK. We currently run 16 free recycling Programmes in France. In France, the cosmetics brand Kiehl’s uses TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Box solution in their stores to enable customers to recycle their used personal care / beauty packaging in their stores. Since TerraCycle launched the Zero Waste box solution in France in 2014, hundreds of companies have purchased Zero Waste Boxes to recycle a variety of types of waste. Specifically, in the luxury/cosmetic industry L’Oréal (for Kiehls and Lancôme), P&G at Monoprix perfume shop (“rayon parfumerie”), Caudalie, Montblanc use Zero Waste Boxes to recycle their packaging. We’ve also worked with Mac Cosmetics, Les Happycuriennes, Biolage and Pierre Fabre in the past.
- What is the most recycled waste in the luxury industry? And what are the most difficult to recycle?
Many kinds of beauty and personal care packaging are made of PET. PET is the most recycled type of plastic in the world. On the other hand, other type of waste from the luxury industry are more difficult to recycle, because of the material that compose them. The black and dark plastics of many cosmetics are harder to recycle because the optical scanners used to identify types of plastic Materials Recovery Facility is using the reflection of light deem black plastic unrecyclable in the current system. This is because black plastic does not reflect light. The packaging that are multi-compositional or multimaterial are another problem. The thin, flexible stand-up pouches that hold shampoo, bubble bath, lotions and gels are not recyclable kerbside, because they jam up the machinery and are considered too low-value to capture. Further, the add-ons and fitments that give these packages high-function (such as flip top caps, spouts, trigger heads) not only need to be separated from the rest of the package because they are made from different types of plastic, fall through the cracks of the screeners at recycling facilities due to their small size. The smaller makeup and cosmetics compact’s and instruments are not considered recyclable for this reason.