Chipping in with TerraCycle

Tom at Podium
Tom Szaky introducing Chips for Change in Hamilton Township

You know those crinkly snack bags? The ones made of foil or other materials that aren't easily recyclable?

Well, now someone wants them.

And of course it would Tom Szaky and the folks at Trenton-based TerraCycle, who have made a successful business out of taking things no one else wants and turning them into cool products that people will buy.

Recently, Szaky announced that Hamilton Township, just outside Trenton, had been selected for a national pilot project to collect chip.

Through an arrangement with Frito-Lay, TerraCycle already collects .05 percent -- not much, true -- of chip bags through its Brigade collection programs, which offers student groups and other organizations money for sending in loads of chip bags that otherwise would be discarded.

Now, however, through its new "Chip in for Change" pilot, TerraCycle wants to increase the amount collected to at least ten percent – closer to the average recycling rate of plastic bottles. Hamilton Township was chosen as the pilot location due to its proximity to TerraCycle and the fact it already has locations sending non-recyclable packaging to TerraCycle.

To do that during the trial, which began July 11 and runs through Oct. 31, Hamilton Township will need to collect 114,930 chip bags (38,310 per month), according to a TerraCycle press release. Collection sites will be set up in firehouses, police buildings, schools and other township buildings across the community. For every 50,000 chip bags collected, $250 will be donated to a local charity or non-profit such as the police or fire departments and library system. Hamilton residents who already participate in the Chip Bag Brigade with TerraCycle will continue to earn 2 cents per bag for their charity.

“We set ten percent as our minimum goal although we think we can get to at least 30 percent of chip bags diverted from landfill,” said Tom Szaky, TerraCycle’s CEO.

If the township achieves the increased collection rate, TerraCycle hopes to replicate the program on a regional or national scale. 

TerraCycle collects more than 50 different kinds of products and packaging through its Brigade programs, which are open to any individual or organization.

According to company statistics, TerraCycle has kept more than two billion pieces of trash from going to landfills, and with its partners, dispersed almost $4 million to charity.

So next time you're going through Hamilton, how 'bout chipping in?