TerraCycle was established by the Sustainability Committee during the spring semester of 2014 and is slowly growing into an organization that could become a popular way of reducing solid waste. The method utilized by this program differs from recycling, which requires that material be extracted from an item in order for that item to be transformed into a new product. TerraCycle, instead, relies on a revolutionary technique known as upcycling, which reduces even more waste by using every aspect of an item in order to make a new product. Two factors that are central to the upcycling process are the material the item is made from and the shape of the item. The program then uses the material and shape of the item in processing that does not alter the item’s structure in any way in order to extend the useful life of the product.
The TerraCycle Program, by using every part of a recyclable in processing, reduces waste, eliminates the need for raw materials and processing, saves money that would be needed for manufacture, minimizes environmental impact, alleviates the effects of resource depletion and water withdrawal, and reduces the carbon footprint by lowing carbon emissions.
The Sustainability Committee and any volunteers who are participating in collections record the number and the weight of the items present because all items that are sent in to TerraCycle are worth $0.01 a piece. Lycoming College currently participates in the Solo Cup Brigade, the Personal Care Brigade, the Energy Bar Wrapper Brigade by Clif Bar, and the Tom’s of Maine Natural Care Brigade in order to accumulate items for collection and points that can be converted into money that can be donated to a desired charity. The Sustainability Committee has chosen to donate all earnings from the TerraCycle program to Charity: Water, an organization that works to bring clean drinking water to people in impoverished, rural areas in as much as twenty-two developing countries; specifically in areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America, and South Asia.