SRU student starts ‘Terracyling’ recycling program

Published by adviser, Author: Catie Clark - Assistant News Editor, Date: December 7, 2012

A Slippery Rock University student is starting a new recycling initiative called Terracycling, which involves recycling goods that are not traditionally recyclable.

The Terracycle Company gives back to those who recycle these nontraditional products, so the initiative will also serve as a fundraiser for the university.

Jenna Kessler, a senior Environmental Studies student from Boyertown, Pa., is behind the plan for the new recycling initiative.

According to Kessler, Terracycling is a way to save trash that would normally end up in a landfill.

“Terracycling is essentially the up-cycling of products like chip and snack bags or ink cartridges, and turns them into useable products such as park benches, bike racks and notebooks,” Kessler said.

According to the Terracycle web site, their purpose is to eliminate the ideas of waste.

“We do this by creating national recycling systems for previously non-recyclable or hard-to-recycle waste,” the Terracycle web site said. “Anyone can sign up for these programs, called the Brigades, and start sending us waste.”
Kessler said they are planning to start with personal care items this spring.

“Anything can be included but nail polish and nail polish remover, essentially,” Kessler said. “Shampoo, shaving cream bottles, and even the plastic wrappers around razors would all be allowed.”

Kessler said they will have bins located in residence halls and at the ARC for students to drop off their used personal care goods.

Kessler said that a possibility for the charity monies would be a fund towards a green scholarship for students if the fundraiser earns enough money.

“We were also thinking we could find an organization that we think is deserving of the money instead of the giving the money to the university directly,” Kessler said.

However, money isn’t the only option to give back to the university community.

“You can save up points on the Terracycle website and get products back instead,” Kessler said. “We’re looking into buying new benches and bike racks for the school instead.”

According to Kessler, she originally got involved with the Terracycle program through a summer volunteer program.

“A family friend signed a local zoo up to receive charity money,” Kessler said. “They had different collection programs, including personal care, and raised over $900 for the zoo last year.”

Kessler said they are only expecting a few hundred dollars at first, because the program is starting in the second semester.

“Hopefully we will be able to build on the program in future years and have many different collections,” Kessler said.

Kessler said that after the products are cleaned and sorted, they can be ‘up-cycled’ into many different, new products.

“They can turn chip bags to book covers, juice boxes into backpacks, and melt plastics into molds for things like park benches,” Kessler said.

According to Terracycle, “our goal is to eliminate the idea of waste by creating collection and solution systems for anything that today must be sent to a landfill.”

Kessler said that the process of up-cycling an older idea, but the actual Terracycle company was founded by a college freshman at Princeton University around 10 years ago.

“The company started by feeding table scraps to worms and selling the feces as fertilizer in used soda bottles,” Kessler said. “Since then they have brought in many new products, and sell those instead.”

According to Kessler, the Terracycling initiative at Slippery Rock is something she has started on her own, which the help of clubs like the Geography, Geology, and the Environment club and the Energy Conservation Commission.

“I’m hoping to pass [the project] on to incoming students or freshmen, but I’m trying to get the word out that we need this to be taken over after I graduate in May,” Kessler said.

For more information on Terracycling and how to get involved, Kessler can be reached at


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