Anna Minns is General Manager of Terracycle Australia, a company dedicated to creating recycling solutions for just about anything.

What’s involved in developing a recycling solution for “difficult” waste like the Nescafé capsules?

More often than not, companies approach us about a solution for their product’s waste stream.

Nescafé Dolce Gusto joined with TerraCycle to provide a second life for used Nescafé Dolce Gusto capsules, so Australians can now collect, store and ship their capsules from home or work for free.

For the current Nescafé Dolce Gusto Capsule Brigade we do not collect any other brand of capsules, only Nescafé Dolce Gusto capsules. If consumers are interested in a particular waste stream we suggest they let their favourite brand know about TerraCycle’s work! We hope in time to be collecting more and more “unrecyclable” waste.

Can goodwill be infectious enough for the majority of manufacturing companies to take responsibility for end of life of their product, or will they need to be pushed into it by legislation?

As the circular economy is increasingly gaining traction in our region many companies are looking to circular solutions rather than linear solutions of ‘take, make, then dispose’.

TerraCycle works with many major FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) companies, as well as small brands, to create a voluntary product stewardship scheme that diverts everyday consumer products and packaging that are difficult to recycle such as toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, coffee capsules and even cigarette butts, from landfill, and instead into new products creating circular solutions. The recycling system creates a collection model open to the public.

Australia has one of the highest rates of waste generation per capita in the world and in fact, world waste is also expected to double by 2025. Government schemes and extended producer responsibility laws may be slow in coming to effect to deal with growing waste issues. TerraCycle’s solutions are readily available and the onus is on both brands to consider a solution to an increasing problem as well as consumers to use their buying power as a ‘vote’ for sustainability.

What would you nominate as the most unlikely or surprising items that you have created recycling solutions for?

Cigarettes, chewing gum, feminine hygiene products and nappies! TerraCycle has proven that (almost) anything can and should be recycled.

Do you get to shovel rotting food to the worms occasionally?

No. But we are offering a copy of Tom’s book “Revolution in a Bottle” for a Switch Report reader that outlines the origins of TerraCycle as a company turning worm poop into fertilizer!

To win a copy of Revolution in a Bottle by Terracycle’s founder Tom Szaky, just sign up for our newsletter by midnight on Sunday 16 November, and you’ll be in the draw. If you are already on our mailing list you don’t need to do anything. You are automatically entered.