What was your motivation for creating TerraCycle?
I wanted to find something where I could really make a difference in the world. Garbage is a massive problem and I thought maybe I could try to solve it. I was also really interested in the idea of a social business. In school, you learn that the purpose of business is profit — and I just thought there should be more to it than that.
What was the impetus behind your commitment to the environment? To people?
I was really interested in the aspects of a social and triple bottom line business, with putting people and planet before profit. You hear people say they want to change the world and I really thought it. That was and is a goal of mine. I wanted to do something that solved a big problem.
What’s your trick for making a profit when your business model relies on looking beyond profit?
We are constantly innovating. Our business would have been stagnant if we hadn’t taken advantage of some opportunities when they came our way or hadn't looked for opportunities to create.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I didn’t have a specific role in mind, but I always enjoyed entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is amazing because you can really influence the world quickly and globally.
Are your partners/customers looking for ethically-driven solutions you provide — or do you find yourself educating them about the issue?
A little of both. Our partners want to give their consumers a recycling option, so we give them the first step in moving away from what would be a linear solution (throwing it away) to at least recycling the object. Sometimes, manufacturers think they are doing the right thing with the way they have designed products or packaging but don’t realize they have rendered it unrecyclable by using black plastic or colored glass for example.