My Internship at TerraCycle

I posted in my first blog about some of the cool jobs and internships I have been fortunate to have. I wanted to take the time and talk about my most previous internship in the business development department at TerraCycle this past summer. I moved out to Trenton, New Jersey to work for a company that is simply eliminating the idea of waste. CEO Tom Szaky, from his book Revolution in a Bottle, says it best that “in looking at waste as an entirely modern, man-made idea, I stopped viewing garbage as garbage and instead slowly started to see it as a commodity.” The private company’s goal is to engage consumers and communities in the collection of non-recyclable waste, things that you ordinarily cannot throw away into a recycling bin. Through a collection process, or Brigade™, consumers can send in their used products to TerraCycle where they will transform the waste into eco-products. They also incentivize the collections by rewarding consumers with $0.02 per item to a charity or school of their choice. This is able to close an environmental loop for brand’s consumers, and help them realize that there is an end of life decision for all the products they are using.

From corks, cameras, cell phones, any sort of packaging, pre-consumer waste, shoes, diapers, energy bars, pens to yogurt containers, TerraCycle handles them all. They are very proud to say that they have not yet encountered a form of waste in which they can’t handle. Also, the whole Trenton office is upcycled featured conference rooms made from bottle walls and reclaimed doors used for desks (the office was voted the “Coolest in America.”). Some of their more successful products can be found in Walmart and the Home Depot like the Capri Sun backpack and the garbage cans made from 1,500 Frito-Lay bags. Next time you’re at the grocery store, be sure to look at the back of a Capri Sun box!

By being a part of the business development team it was my duty to research and reach out to prospective brands to sponsor a specific Brigade™ or waste stream. Some of the companies that I was on conference calls and in contact with were Adidas, Puma, Mary’s Gone Cracker, ReBounces and KEEN Footwear. I actually helped facilitate and close a deal for ReBounces where TerraCycle will collect and reuse tennis balls. This was truly an amazing experience and I learned valuable skills like brand management, business etiquette and abstract thinking. An internship experience is a great way to help someone better understand and mature in a real world business environment. I also was able to explore the east coast, a place unfamiliar to me. It was fun to go to Times Square, Philadelphia for the 4th of July, and different beaches along the coast as well as go surfing. I actually was able to surprisingly see P Diddy and the Jersey Shore cast on two different occasions!

If it wasn’t for some of the classes I took at Mount Union, I may have not been able to land the internship. There are several courses in the Department of Economics, Accounting and Business Administration offered like life and career plans that helped me construct proper resumes, cover letters, references, acceptance letters and allowed me to participate in mock interviews. I found the internship online, and all the tools I learned in class were put into use. I really loved working for an eco-capitalist company, and I hope to implement some of the ideas here at Mount Union. Maybe one day our campus will be completely off of waste!

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