Garbage In, Products Out

Tom Szaky, the founder of TerraCycle, will speak at UWG on Feb. 10. The company that started with worm poop has removed tons of garbage from the waste stream and donated millions to charity.

Tom Szaky, the founder of TerraCycle, will speak at the University of West Georgia on Feb. 10. The chat should be interesting. Szaky was a freshman at Princeton when he and his friends were using worm poop to fertilize their gardens.

They parlayed the poop into a purchase order worth $250,000 from Wal-Mart.

Today TerraCycle is in 20 countries, it has removed tons of garbage from the waste stream and donated millions to charity.

Szaky said that from the beginning TerraCycle’s scientists and designers have looked for creative ways to remake materials that are hard to recycle: cookie sacks and drink pouches became tote bags; vinyl records became clocks and coasters; and bicycle chains became picture frames.

“We focus on things that are hard to recycle, not the things that are easy,” Szaky told me.

“We realized there was inherent value in poop,” he said. “In business you want to focus on areas where there are problems and you try to find creative solutions.

Companies are eager for solutions, he said.

“It’s all driven by the waste stream,” Szaky said. “Everything starts with the garbage. Garbage comes in, products go out.”

To hear Szaky speak, be sure to come campus:

The University of West Georgia's Richards College of Business will present Szaky on Friday, Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. in the Townsend Center for the Performing Arts.

The presentation, part of the BB&T Lectures in Free Enterprise series, is free and open to the public.

Free tickets are available at the Townsend Center box office. Audience members will have chances to win TerraCycle products and other door prizes.

For ticket information, contact Beth Chandler at 678-839-5261 or bchandler@westga.edu, or call the Townsend Center at 678-839-4722.

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