Is TerraCycle greenwashing?
There’s no denying that recycling hard-to-recycle plastics is positive in itself and therefore we aren’t calling on people to stop using TerraCycle recycling programmes.
However, we think it needs to be acknowledged that TerraCycle collaborates with brands in a way that helps it appear as though they are helping to solve the plastic pollution problem, when in fact those brands continue to be leading contributors to the plastic pollution problem.
TerraCycle recycling projects don’t change this fact.
TerraCycle provides brands with marketing services to promote the fact they are involved in a TerraCycle recycling programme (take a look at its Head & Shoulders partnership below).
If TerraCycle required brands to state what percentage of its overall packaging ends up being recycled, versus in landfill or incineration, this could mitigate the risk of TerraCycle programmes being used as a tool for corporate greenwash.
TerraCycle says it does not have access to data that shows what percentage of the brands it works with’s overall waste is recycled because “brands do not share their sales with us” and that in order to access this figure it is necessary to contact brands directly.
Without transparent information about brands’ overall waste and recycling, we believe there is a risk that TerraCycle programmes could result in consumers believing that brands’ recycling programmes are having more of an impact than they actually are – the definition of greenwashing.