Monday, June 7, 2010

Worm Poop to Oreos - A Story of Upward Mobility

Tom Szaky is an enterprising eco-capitalist – you could almost call him an environmental rock star. He's a Canadian who headed south to university at Princeton. There, in time-honoured entrepreneurial fashion, he started a business in his dorm room producing environmentally friendly fertilizer from worm poop! Down to earth beginnings indeed. In the small world category, my daughter in Princeton was one of his first customers! WalMart, Home Depot and others followed, providing TerraCycle with its breakthrough opportunity. Within five years, Inc. Magazine named TerraCycle “The Coolest Little Start-Up in America” and Tom the #1 CEO in America Under 30.

Tom and TerraCycle are part of the sustainable business movement. Now his company produces a myriad of products, all from recycled material. It’s an idea he calls Sponsored Waste. TerraCycle gets low cost waste materials by working with companies such as Kraft Foods, Frito-Lay, Mars, Kashi, Stonyfield Farm, CLIF BAR and Honest Tea. TerraCycle upcycles the collected ‘waste’ material into affordable, eco-friendly products. Now, this Oreo bag is much more appetizing than worm poop!

Tom's been recommended by several people as an exciting and persuasive speaker. National Geographic TV seems to think so - they will be starting a season of Garbage Moguls, after a successful pilot last year.

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