TerraCycle: Turning Trash into Cash

by: Stuart L. Hart

Publication Date: April 29, 2009
Length: 16 pages
Product ID#: 1-429-176

Core Disciplines: Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Marketing/Sales, Strategy & Management, Sustainability

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Teaching Note

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TerraCycle was founded in 2002 by Tom Szaky, a 20-year-old Princeton University dropout. The company’s flagship product, TerraCycle Plant Food, is liquefied worm poop made from worm-processed organic waste and packaged in reused soda bottles, many of which are collected in fund raising efforts by school children and non-profit groups.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Introduce the concept of eco-capitalism and the triple bottom line business model.
  • Introduce the concept of upcycling, and its differences in comparison to recycling.
  • Discuss TerraCycle's business model and growth strategy and its “branded waste” strategy.
  • Identify TerraCycle's core competency.