SES uses new and innovative way to reuse trash

Lyndsie Yamrus, Staff Writer

You’ve heard of recycled, but how about upcycled? In another effort to “go green” at Wilkes, the Students for Environmental Sustainability club has recently initiated a sustainability collection project called TerraCycle  using this process of “upcycling.”

Junior Environmental Engineering majors and SES club presidents Katie Cirone and Lizzie Helsel say that TerraCycle is a company that creates and manages collection systems for a variety of hard-to-recycle waste products, such as chip bags, gum wrappers, drink pouches, writing utensils, Ziploc baggies and other items.

Tom Szaky, creator and CEO of TerraCycle, had the idea that instead of recycling waste, it could be upcycled and used for another purpose. Cirone explained how upcycling is different than recycling.

“With upcycling, instead of breaking down an object, you keep its natural shape,” Cirone says.

The waste is collected in separate boxes and shipped to the TerraCycle company. Helsel said plastic waste, such as butter containers, are shredded and melted down to make playground equipment or garbage cans and wine corks are cut and designed into corkboards.

Directing waste away from landfills is the primary goal of the project.

The SES club has distributed boxes to several areas around campus in hopes that students and faculty will join in on the effort. TerraCycle boxes can be found in several of the main buildings on campus. The club plans to put more boxes out in the near future to allow more people to get involved.

Junior environmental engineering major and SES Treasurer Brian Palmiter says that a variety of different products are made from the waste and sold at major retail stores like Walmart or Target. TerraCycle products can also be purchased online.

“This is the first year for TerraCycle at Wilkes,” Palmiter says. “We’ve had the idea in the works, and in the last couple of weeks we were able to get the boxes out.”

As an added incentive to participate in the brigade, the TerraCycle company donates at least 2 cents for most items mailed in that goes toward a school or a charity of one’s choice.

“It’s either a TerraCycle box or a landfill, so make that extra effort to put your chip bag into the box rather than the trash can next to it,” Helsel says.