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Tom Szaky

tomOld Boy

Star entrepreneur ‘upcycles’ garbage

As a UCC student who’d recently emigrated from Hungary, Tom Szaky ’01 caught the entrepreneurial bug by observing his peers’ parents. “All these parents in successful businesses opened my eyes in a cool way.”

Today, the CEO of Trenton, N.J.-based TerraCycle generates $20 million annually and has rallied more than 35 million people in 22 countries to collect package waste that is turned into new products like backpacks and pencil cases. TerraCycle has been a media darling since it launched in 2001 by producing fertilizer made from “worm poop,” packaged in reused containers.

It now enlists more than 20 large companies — including Garnier, Maple Leaf and Old Navy — which benefit from the publicity involved with the collection and upcycling of its refuse. The New York Times has featured Szaky as a blogger and he’s an industry expert on CNBC Prime’s new reality series, Crowd Rules.

Next up? How to turn used diapers and chewing gum into useful products. Stay tuned.