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A unique approach to waste management

Tom Szaky, chief executive officer of the company that developed the first product made from and packaged in waste, will speak at 4:10 pm Thursday in Packer Memorial Church. His talk, which is free and open to the public, is the first in a series of talks sponsored by the Humanities Center at Lehigh University on the topic of waste.

Future speakers will explore the idea of waste as both a problem to address and an aspiration to be achieved.

Szaky’s lecture will focus on his role in founding TerraCycle, Inc. at the age of 20, a true eco-capitalist business model that was constructed on a foundation of waste. In 2001, Tom Szaky and a fellow Princeton student, Jon Beyer, set out to change the way people do business.

Inspired by a box of worms, the two students came up with a concept that a company could be financially successful while being ecologically and socially responsible. They brought their inspiration to life by developing a prototype of the TerraCycling equipment, and by reprocessing solid waste from dining halls at Princeton.

The entire TerraCycle operation’s unique business approach was to focus on manufacturing everything out of waste to prove that a business can be both feasible and environmentally sound. TerraCycle also inspired students to actively go into their communities and recognize the opportunities for success and the potential for having a positive impact on their surroundings.

At its inception in 2002, TerraCycle, Inc. was a two-man operation housed in the crowded basement of an old office building in Princeton. Today, TerraCycle occupies a 20,000-square-foot factory in Trenton, N.J., where it employs more than 20 workers and makes and ships its unique consumer products to Wal-Mart Canada, Whole Foods, Home Depot, and other major retail stores.

For more information on this and other talks sponsored by the Humanities Center at Lehigh University, please call (610) 758-4649.

--Andrea Tulcin

Posted on Tuesday, September 20, 2005

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