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TerraCycle repurposes packaging for OfficeMax

OfficeMax to offer TerraCycle’s first-ever ‘made from waste’ school and office products.
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OfficeMax® Inc., Naperville, IL, has partnered with TerraCycle™, Inc., of Trenton, NJ, to bring a new line of “green” office products to OfficeMax customers. Since April, OfficeMax has featured seven new TerraCycle products, including binders, pencil cases, trash cans, and cleaners sold from integrated, end-of-aisle product displays. TerraCycle manufactures and packages products from waste and reduces the amount of garbage going to landfills (see www.packworld.com/casestudy-24172).

The new line with OfficeMax is TerraCycle’s first line of office products and features items for kids and adults. The design of these products and their packaging help to reduce some of the country’s largest waste streams.
“OfficeMax is pleased to provide our customers with the environmentally responsible products that TerraCycle is pioneering,” says Ryan Vero, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer for OfficeMax. “TerraCycle’s unconventional manufacturing methods have led to some of the most progressive products on the market today. We are happy to be a part of TerraCycle’s efforts to make a greener workspace.”

“We believe that OfficeMax is the ideal retailer for our products,” says Tom Szaky, TerraCycle CEO and founder. “They share our vision of making products from waste and supplying them to a mass audience without charging a premium.”
Providing products priced on par with standard versions rather than as premium offerings is a key part of the company’s approach, echoes TerraCycle spokesperson Albe Zakes. He asks, “If everyone can afford to buy eco-friendly products, why wouldn’t they?”

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Accordingly, the cleaners are priced at $3.99, with the degreaser having a price point of $5.99. The pencil cases are priced at $1.99 and $2.99 for the small and medium sizes, with a large size in the works, Zakes adds. Binders range from $3.99 to $4.99, and the trash cans and recycle bins—which Zakes says TerraCycle prefers, naturally—are priced at $10.99. Those are produced using materials from several sources, including post-consumer and industrial plastic.

Packaging plays a key role in the introductions. The line includes Natural All-Purpose, Natural Window, and Natural Degreaser products filled in off-spec 1-L soda bottles.

OfficeMax will also carry TerraCycle’s first lines of trash cans and recycling bins that are made from 100% recycled plastic, and binders made from 100% recycled corrugated covers—made from boxes—and 90% recycled steel rings.
Also, a new line of brightly colored pencil cases—in two sizes—debuts, made from off-spec and post-consumer metallized film drink pouches from program sponsor Kraft Foods, maker of Capri Sun and Kool-Aid brand pouched drinks. TerraCycle runs several free recycling fundraisers for schools, including one that pays schools two cents for every used drink pouch they collect.

Manufacturing changes

The production of the plastic trash bins and binders is outsourced to private label manufacturers while the cleaners and pencil cases are packaged in-house at its in Trenton manufacturing plant, Zakes explains. The cleaners are produced on the company’s existing fillers that also bottle its flagship liquid worm poop products that were introduced in 2005 at Wal-Mart and Home Depot. “We just make sure we clean out the equipment really well,” says Zakes.

For the pencil cases, TerraCycle installed new industrial washers to clean the post-consumer drink pouches and sewing stations to stitch the pouches into the pencil cases. TerraCycle is handling from 7,000 to 10,000 used pouches arriving daily, according to Zakes.

Part of the process involves separating the drink pouches by brand and by flavor/color. “You’ll never see a Kool-Aid and Capri Sun pouch together in the same pencil case,” Zakes notes. The result is that each pencil case is unique, adds Zakes, agreeing that the highly reflective, metallized pencil cases also make an eye-catching display at OfficeMax to lure kids and parents to the TerraCycle products.

The company’s eco-oriented momentum continues. Zakes tells Packaging World that TerraCycle is working on programs to reuse Oreo, ChipsAhoy!, and Balance Bar packaging as part of a new package reclamation initiative with Kraft Foods.

Zakes is enthused about this new direction for TerraCycle that expands its offerings beyond garden products and into schools and offices. It’s all part of an aggressive and ambitious long-term goal for TerraCycle to become a broad-line consumer products company, “the eco-friendly Procter and Gamble of the next century,” according to Zakes.

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