What Is TerraCycle? (And What It Isn't) - The Ultimate Guide

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Even though almost everything can be recycled, some materials can be more difficult and expensive to recycle than others. So, what can you do with those items that aren’t recycled through your local kerbside collection?

Well, that’s where TerraCycle’s recycling programmes come in, or at least that’s what the company says. So, what is Terracycle? Some people think these programmes are a big greenwashing strategy. But is it true? Or is Terracycling legit?

That’s what we’ll discuss in today’s article.

Keep reading to discover what TerraCycle is, how its recycling programmes work, and whether you should trust this company or not! 


What is TerraCycle?

TerraCycle is a pioneering company known for recycling hard-to-recycle waste, like crisp packets and toothpaste tubes. This company offers free recycling programmes to collect and recycle items that are not commonly processed by local councils. To make this possible, TerraCycle’s recycling programmes are funded by several brands and manufacturers.

According to TerraCycle, its mission is “Eliminating the Idea of Waste®”.

In simple words, large corporations pay a fee to this company to recycle their single-use products and packaging. And in some cases, these corporations also make charitable donations for each item recycled.

It’s great to know that, but what is TerraCycle doing? Can you trust this company? Is Terracycling legit?

Let’s find out.

terracycle recycling infographic

TerraCycle Recycling Programmes: How Do They Work?

It’s one thing to know what TerraCycle recycling is and quite another to make sure it actually works. These recycling programmes sound like the perfect solution to our waste problems, but all that glitter is not gold.

Here’s how TerraCycle’s recycling programmes work:

TerraCycle’s Recycling Programmes

To recycle TerraCycle packaging, you have to look for public drop-off locations. Unfortunately, these drop-off points aren’t as common as you might think and you’ll probably have to drive a few miles to find one.

On top of that, sometimes there’s even a waitlist to sign up for its programmes. You could be on these waitlists for a few weeks. But in the worst-case scenario, you could end up waiting over a year to get a shipping label!

Let’s remember that TerraCycle’s recycling programmes are sponsored by some brands. And to stay within their budget, these brands set a limit on the amount of waste accepted.

You could also purchase Zero Waste Boxes, but they’re not cheap.

As you can see, TerraCycle’s recycling programmes can be complicated or expensive. That’s why a lot of people wonder whether terracycling is legit at all. 


Is TerraCycle Greenwashing?

Many people think that TerraCycle recycling is helping large corporations greenwash their products and mislead consumers. In fact, TerraCycle and its corporate partner brands are currently being sued by an NGO for greenwashing.

Why is that? What is TerraCycle doing?

TerraCycle’s recycling programmes allow partner brands to market their single-use products and packaging as “recyclable”. But since these items aren’t easily recycled, it’s no secret that most of them will end up in the landfill.

That’s right, this is the perfect excuse for large corporations to keep using hard-to-recycle plastics. With TerraCycle’s recycling programmes, brands can portray themselves as “eco-friendly” instead of redesigning their products to be reusable or easily recycled by local councils.

So, it’s not surprising that all these inconsistencies make people wonder whether TerraCycling is legit or not.


Is TerraCycling Legit?

Short answer: Yes, it is.

TerraCycle is a legitimate recycling company that captures, sorts, and processes difficult-to-recycle waste. Everything you send to the company will get recycled, which means TerraCycle’s recycling programmes divert waste from landfills, incinerators, and the environment!

What TerraCycle is doing can help us protect our planet.

But let’s not forget that it’s still a recycling company. Even though terracycling is legit, recycling shouldn’t be our first line of defence! 

what is terracycle


Things You Didn’t Know You Can Recycle Through TerraCycle

What TerraCycle is trying to do can help us alleviate some of our waste problems. With TerraCycle’s recycling programmes, you can recycle items that otherwise would go to the landfill.

Now that you know TerraCycling is legit, let’s check some items you can recycle through its free programmes:


  • Contact lenses, blister packs, and foil covers
  • Baby food pouches
  • Empty makeup packaging
  • Beauty, skincare, and body care packaging
  • Biscuit, cracker, and cake wrappers
  • Foil balloons and banners
  • Pet food pouches/bags
  • Dental care products
  • Crisp packets
  • Razors and razor blades
  • Writing instruments

The Bottom Line

Some brands sponsor TerraCycle’s recycling programmes to show their customers that they’re trying “their best” to protect the environment.

But that’s not always the truth: Some of them could switch to sustainable packaging alternatives or offer reusable products instead.

The good news is that TerraCycle is a legit company and it provides a wonderful service to reduce waste. If you can’t find sustainable alternatives for some products, these programmes can help you reduce your impact.

That’s what TerraCycle is doing for our planet.


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