- During a recent Facebook webinar for the World Economic Forum, TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky explained that the only way the world can truly see waste reduction is if consumers change shopping habits to purchase reused and recyclable products, or to not purchase anything at all, as reported by Edie.
- "Consumerism is the underlying issue of every single environmental issue of earth," Szaky said, going on to explain that big business was designed to "mirror" consumer habits and if consumers don't demand durable goods, businesses won't provide them.
- Szaky also noted that, of all global packaging, only 5% is recycled. Around 25% ends up in oceans, while the remaining 70% is burned or sent to landfills.
As the CEO of a company specializing in hard-to-recycle materials, it can be assumed that Szaky understands the obstacles of recycling just as well, or even better, than traditional recyclers. He noted in the webinar that closing the loop for hard-to-recycle materials is extra challenging in developing countries because there aren't financial incentives or proper understandings of why hard-to-recycle materials need to be tackled.
The idea of "closing the loop" on a global scale has been discussed at length across the industry while a circular economy has been touted as a way for economies to flourish. At recent USCCF Sustainability Forum, consulting firm Accenture estimated that a closed-loop system of reuse could unlock $4.5 trillion in economic growth. And while its been found that there is a global consumer demand for sustainable goods, the loop is far from being closed.
While consumers may be the driving force behind challenges in the waste industry, it is the job of industry professionals to teach all consumers about proper practices and the environmental and economical consequences of not following those practices. While more industry leaders are stepping-up efforts on educational initiatives, it is clear that more needs to be done to get all consumers on board.