FAIRFIELD — Fairfield residents have new opportunities to recycle materials they might have previously dumped in the trash.
The effort to turn the city into a recycling hub has been given new wings by a group called TerraCycle Fairfield. The group installed four collection bins inside the front entrance to Everybody’s Whole Foods grocery store. The four bins accept the following items: oral care and hygiene products, razors, batteries and e-waste (electronic devices such as computers and tablets). The bins are sponsored by the Sustainable Living Coalition.
The bins have been a huge success. For instance, in the month since they debuted, TerraCycle has collected nearly 90 pounds of used batteries. The group hopes to expand the program to other places around town such as in schools, the library and businesses.
Since the bins were so well received, TerraCycle Fairfield committed to add an additional bin to collect used beauty products. Customers will be able to recycle their skin care, haircare or makeup containers.
TerraCycle has partnered with another business, Walmart, to create a recycling program for car seats. The program began on Sept. 16 and runs through Sept. 30. During that time, anyone may take an old car seat to Walmart in exchange for a $30 Walmart gift card. This program applies to all Walmarts and not just the one in Fairfield.
The idea to create TerraCycle Fairfield began in the mind of Stuart Valentine of the Sustainable Living Coalition. He had heard of the recycling business TerraCycle in New Jersey that specializes in recycling hard-to-recycle materials. He wanted to create something similar closer to home.
This past summer of 2019, Drew Schoenfeld, a 2018 Maharishi School graduate, interned with the Sustainable Living Coalition. He helped Valentine fulfill his goal of starting a TerraCycle group here.
“Our goal was to make Fairfield a TerraCycling town with as many businesses, public organizations, schools and churches participating as possible,” Schoenfeld said. “We want to make Fairfield as close to waste-free as possible.”
Schoenfeld started the quest by talking to Fairfield Economic Development Association executive director Joshua Laraby, who gave Schoenfeld advice on how to get the recycling bins into different organizations across town. Schoenfeld started making phone calls and setting up meetings, learning where the best places would be for TerraCycle bins. He learned that Everybody’s was willing to host a series of containers inside its entrance.
“TerraCycle has engineered ways to recycle any waste stream,” Schoenfeld said, mentioning that old toothbrushes have been turned into playgrounds, old pencil cases turned into Frisbees, and recycled cigarettes into eyeglass frames.
“There are all these waste streams we haven’t even begun to tap into that TerraCycle is beginning to use,” he said.
Schoenfeld said TerraCycle has partnered not just with Walmart but with a number of large companies to recycle their waste. For instance, Gillette sponsors a program to collect razors. Other companies include Tom’s Deodorant, Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Valentine and Schoenfeld are hopeful that the success of the recycling bins at Everybody’s will spur other organizations to sponsor the next round of collection bins.
“We want this project to reach all areas of town and bring people toward a positive change in our community,” Schoenfeld said.