Wal-Mart teams up with TerraCycle for Earth Month

Walmart LogoTerraCycleWal-Mart has been moving to make their stores – and their suppliers – more green.

Now, for the month of April to honor the 40th anniversary of Earth Month, they’ve partnered with TerraCycle to create an “Earth Zone” in stores across the country.

TerraCycle, a New Jersey-based company, collects waste packaging from over 60,000 schools and community groups nationwide and “upcycles” them into new, useful products.

TerraCycle repurposes chip bags into stylish totes

TerraCycle repurposes chip bags into stylish totes

A “zone” at the front of each participating store will have displays filled with eco-friendly products. They’ll feature around 40 of TerraCycle’s repurposed products alongside the original products they were made from.

These products include:

  • tote bags made from Frito-Lay wrappers displayed alongside bags of Frito-Lay chips
  • backpacks made from Capri Sun drink pouches displayed next to the juice boxes

The Earth Zone will also include one of TerraCycle’s never-seen-before items – purses and shoulder bags made from popular Mars candy wrappers like M&M’s and Skittles!

This is the largest selection of TerraCycle products ever available in one place.

This kind of display has never been done before.

This as a referendum of sorts on green products, said Albe Zakes, TerraCycle’s Vice President of Media Relations.

“Retailers respond to consumer demand,” he said. “If consumers react well to these types of programs. (hopefully) retailers will continue to support more sustainable, responsible products.”

The packaging from these popular drink products would have ended up in landfills

The packaging from these popular drink products would have ended up in landfills

This is more than asking people to buy our products, says Zakes. “We are asking people to get involved in our pursuit of eliminating the idea of waste!”

TerraCycle was founded in 2001 by then Princeton student Tom Szaky. What began as a two-man organic fertilizer company has grown to become a global innovative leader that offers over 200 affordable earth-friendly products made from materials that are generally seen as unrecyclable trash.

To get their waste materials, TerraCycle runs Brigades, a national collection program consisting of schools, non-profit organizations and individuals who collect used packaging like chip bags, juice pouches, yogurt cups and cookie and candy wrappers. They then send the collected packaging to TerraCycle who gives it a second life as a new useful product.

By collecting unwanted waste, Brigades have helped divert millions of pieces of difficult to recycle packaging from landfills. And Brigades have added bonuses.

TerraCycle contributes two cents for every piece of packaging they collect to a school or non-profit of the Brigade’s choice. TerraCycle covers all shipping costs to send the used packaging back to their New Jersey facility.

In 2009, over 50,000 organization earned over $500,000 dollars by collecting waste they were going to throw away!

TerraCycle currently has almost 9.5 million people involved in Brigades. In northern California, five elementary schools have active Brigades in the Redding area:

  • Columbia Elementary School
  • Lion Cubs Preschool
  • Hope Baptist Church Youth School
  • Bella Vista Elementary School in Bella Vista
  • Junction Elementary School in Palo Cedro

“This is a great opportunity for our Brigade participants to see the products they literally helped build,” Zakes said, “and for other consumers to learn about how they can get involved.”

Though the giant retailer has done no advertising of this amazing display, approximately 1,000 of the Wal-Mart’s in the U.S. are participating. The Wal-Mart program runs through April 29th.

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