Chief Executive Officer
Tom Szaky, 26, is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of TerraCycle, Inc., producer of the world's first product made from waste (worm poop) and packaged in waste (used plastic bottles.) TerraCycle has twice won the Home Depot Environmental Stewardship Award for being the most eco-friendly product sold at Home Depot. In 2006 an Inc. Magazine cover story named TerraCycle, "The Coolest Little Start-Up in America!" That same year Tom was named the #1 CEO in America Under 30 in the Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 Awards, beating billionaire Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg. Imagine a social entrepreneur who donates more money to charities every year then he takes home, beat out a billionaire dot com founder!
Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1982, Mr. Szaky emigrated as a political refugee from Hungary to Holland. In 1989 he and his family emigrated again from Holland to Canada. At 14 he started his first business, a web design company called Flyte Design, which employed three associates and earned its young proprietor a five-figure income. Flyte Design also earned a number of Canadian national design awards. Mr. Szaky then engaged in the start-up of three small 'dot.com' companies: Werehome.com (an online home improvement site), piority.com (an online fundraising school), and studentmarks.com (an online grade tracking software). Mr. Szaky came to the United States in 2001 when he matriculated as a freshman at Princeton University. In 2002, Mr. Szaky dropped out to dedicate himself full-time to starting TerraCycle, Inc., beginning as a two-man outfit in the crowded basement of an old office building in Princeton. Despite being on the verge of bankruptcy, Tom turned down a million dollar Carrot Capital Business Plan Grand Prize (the investors wanted TerraCycle to become less eco-friendly.) Since then Tom and TerraCycle have raised over 10 million dollars from a variety of investors.
Today, after doubling in size for 3 straight years, TerraCycle occupies a 20,000 sq. ft. factory in an Urban Enterprise Zone in Trenton, NJ, where it employs nearly 45 workers in its labor force and is second chance employer as part of its pledge to being socially beneficial. We hire former veterans, convicts drug addicts and homeless persons to come to our factory and work hard as a part of team. What was once just an organic plant food company is now not only a "Worm Poop" company, but a Sponsored Waste company as well.
Sponsored Waste is an idea created by Tom Szaky, which allows TerraCycle to get zero cost materials, free PR, and helps schools and other community groups! TerraCycle works with multi-million or billion dollar companies like Kraft Foods, Stonyfield Farm, CLIF BAR and Emmis Radio Stations to collect waste packaging that the companies use in their goods. TerraCycle then upcycles that 'waste' material into new products. The companies sponsor the programs for the good ecological aspects and TerraCycle gets zero cost materials to make eco-friendly but affordable products.
Currently Kraft Brand Capri Sun and organic beverage company Honest Tea sponsor a program called the Drink Pouch Brigade. In the program, schools collect used drink pouches and send them to TerraCycle and in return earn 2 cents for every pouch they collect! TerraCycle then turns the used pouches into backpack, tote bags and pencil cases, available Summer 2008 at major retailers. We receive 10,000 plus pouches at the factory every day, but that is still a small fraction of the 5 billion discarded every year.
A similar program is the Stonyfield Farm Yogurt Brigade. In this program, schools collect used yogurt containers and in return earn 2 or 5 cents (depending on size) for every yogurt cup they return. TerraCycle upcycles the yogurt cups into small decorative planting pots which will be used by Home Depot in 2009 to grow plants in their nurseries, replacing the wasteful use of disposable black plastic pots. Over 10 billion yogurt containers are discarded everyday in America
The final program is the CLIF BAR Wrapper Brigade, which pays schools and other groups 2 cents for every used energy or granola bar wrapper they collect. TerraCycle then 'fuses' these wrappers into a strong material to manufacture backpacks, umbrellas, shower curtains and more.
All of these programs are based on TerraCycle's wildly popular Bottle Brigade, which has over 4,000 locations nationwide. In that program, TerraCycle pays schools and other groups five cents for every used 20 oz soda bottle they collect. In less then two years, TerraCycle has rescued and reused over 2 million bottles.
Last year alone, TerraCycle donated almost 100,000 dollars to charities, schools and churches. This year that number is expected to double! TerraCycle continues to run these programs despite it costing us much of our profits.
After doubling for tripling in size every year since its creation, TerraCycle is one of the fastest growing organic and eco-friendly companies in the country. Retailers carrying TerraCycle products include: The Home Depot, Wal*Mart, Target, Whole Foods, Kroger, CVS, Office Max and many more. For more information or get involved in one of our Sponsored Waste programs, please visit: www.terracycle.net