Your Waste Makes This Trash Bin

Potato chip and cookie wrappers are usually crunched up and tossed away in our haste to devour our snack of choice. But as waste material, those wrappers can really add up. A company known for their waste-material-turned-product, TerraCycle, has found a clever way to convert that material into new trashcans -- all from plastics that are usually not recycled.

The Trenton, New Jersey company is partnering with Frito-Lay and Sanford to start recycle collection drives with groups (aka Chip Bag Brigades) who designate a school or non-profit of their choice to receive pennies for every wrapper sent in. The goal is to engage 150,000 people nationally and divert more than five million bags from landfills. The company says it's donated nearly $2 million in the last year alone.

Albe Zakes, a company spokesman, says this technology could really make an impact on the country's landfills."Why continue to make virgin plastics when we can use the millions, trillions pieces of plastic packaging to make new plastic?" he says.

TerraCycle essentially shreds the wrappers and puts them through a plastic injection process that results in 3-D objects. This allows them to make a wide variety of items on their site. Their new line of coolers, pictured below, for which TerraCyle created the insulation from the discarded chips bags, will be available in Wal-Marts across the country during April (Earth Month). They are also working with Paper Mate, Sharpie , and pen manufacturers to make products from discarded pens and markers. (Watch out for the collectors from the Writing Utensil Brigade!)

Zakes says recycled plastic products cost about 30 percent less than those made of virgin plastic, so they are a cost-effective alternative for consumers. TerraCycle already offers more playful objects like backpacks, kites and pencil cases. Making trash bins and other more utilitarian items is the next logical step for the eco-friendly company.

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