Tom Szaky


About His Business & Career: Interestingly enough, Tom Szaky’s career began with worm poop. Yes, you read that right. Though he didn’t complete his degree at Princeton University, the college played an important role in forming TerraCycle. During his freshman year, he discovered you could use worm poop as fertilizer. And with that, he left Princeton to start a company that produced fertilizer from vermicompost, which is made by feeding organic waste to worms, and packaged in reused plastic bottles. From there, Szaky diversified into creating upcycled products from waste. And so TerraCycle was born.

Why He Made the Worthy 100: Szaky’s company had impact built in from the start. Now a multimillion-dollar company, TerraCycle is doing right by the planet, constantly seeking new, innovative ways to upcycle and recycle products and materials, such as turning flip flops and juice pouches into parts for playgrounds, launching zero waste boxes as a solution to collect nearly all types of waste and the company’s revolutionary cigarette butt recycling program. TerraCycle also introduced Loop in 2019—something the company refers to as “the 21st-century milkman.” Through this offering, TerraCycle delivers brand name products to customers in refillable packaging, which the consumer then puts back in the Loop tote when they’re finished to be sent back to TerraCycle for cleaning and reuse—thus reducing waste from single-use products. And in 2020, the company began a PPE recycling initiative for disposable masks. Only time will tell what Szaky will come up with next.

Industry: Recycling

Year Founded: 2001

Headquarters: Trenton, N.J.

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