A map of the world made from bottle corks is displayed on a wall at TerraCycle headquarters in Trenton, N.J., on Nov. 9, 2017.
David Williams—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Recycling is a tricky business. Many everyday objects are composed of more than one material, making them challenging—and expensive—to break down. TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky’s solution is to charge companies for collection and disposal of difficult-to-recycle materials—including coffee pods, pens and PPE—which in turn reduces the companies’ environmental footprints. It then converts the waste into raw materials that can be reused to create items from park benches to watering cans. Its sustainable model, buoyed by buy-in from corporations such as Colgate, P&G and Gillette, could be the key to unlocking recycling’s full potential at scale.

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