DANBURY, Conn. — Tom Szaky possesses all the usual entrepreneurial traits — obsessive, innovative, smart — but he works in a business that few others do, and in the process he is creating a new intersection of industry, recycling and even art.
Szaky, 31, will bring his message to Danbury as he presents the Macricostas Entrepreneurship Lecture at Western Connecticut State University at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, in the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall of the Visual and Performing Arts Center, 43 Lake Ave. Extension.
Seating is limited so attendees should reserve free tickets online .
Szaky’s company, TerraCycle, makes money by reusing products that are normally not recycled, but instead are thrown away and later buried, incinerated or left by the side of the road, including items such as potato chip bags and cigarette butts.
He also collects the material in a unique way: paying schools and other organizations to gather the items for pickup by TerraCycle.
Szaky founded the company in 2002, when he dropped out of Princeton University to concentrate full-time on making plant fertilizer out of worm droppings. His first break came when Home Depot and Walmart agreed to sell the liquefied “worm poop,” which is packaged in reused 20-ounce soda bottles.
TerraCycle continues to sell that product and has expanded its mission to envision a world with zero consumer waste.
As Szaky says, people called him crazy. “TerraCycle tries to bring solutions to garbage where there are no solutions currently,” he says. “As a consumer, your only choice is to throw it out, so we give special collection platforms and then we have really high-end solutions to turn them into new things.” Current products include composters, clocks made from circuit boards, totes and scrapbooks decorated with potato chip bags, bicycle picture frames, and more.
TerraCycle is now a $15 million a year business with operations in 23 countries.
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