Thomas A. Szaky ’01
Young Old Boy of Distinction (2021)
Szaky is the founder and chief executive officer of TerraCycle, a global leader in the collection and repurposing of hard-to-recycle waste. TerraCycle operates in 21 countries, working with some of the world's largest brands, retailers, cities and manufacturers to create national platforms to recycle products and packaging that currently go to landfill or incineration.
He’s also the author of four books, including The Future of Packaging: From Linear to Circular, and Revolution in a Bottle, which focuses on how to eliminate the idea of waste and change perceptions about what is recyclable. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Product Stewardship Institute, D'Addario Foundation, World Economic Forum (Future of Consumption board) and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (CE100 board).
In addition to his pioneering work in sustainability, Szaky has made a difference at UCC, speaking at Assembly and the Green School Committee, and helping establish a program from 2013–2015 that allowed students to do summer internships at TerraCycle.
Szaky is no stranger to awards for his global contributions. He and TerraCycle have received hundreds of social, environmental and business awards and nods from a range of organizations including the United Nations, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Fortune and Time magazines, World Economic Forum, and the Schwab Foundation. Achievements and recognition started early for Szaky: as a UCC student, he earned a place on the Principal’s List; the Bruce Hicks Award for Public Service; a General Proficiency Award; and the John Howard Prize in Arts.