TerraCycle launches waste-to-profit Facebook game

Game challenges players to make money by recycling for profit, mimicking the sponsor's real-life business model.

The start screen in Trash Tycoon on Facebook Guerrillapps/Screenshot by Candace Lombardi

Could TerraCycle and Guerillapps have hit upon the next FarmVille?

The Trash Tycoon Facebook game that launched yesterday challenges players to find and recycle trash that can be used to make eco-friendly products that translate into game money and points. Its sponsors include TreeHugger and the CarbonFund.org, as well as TerraCycle.

The game, developed by Guerillapps, was a finalist at VentureBeat's GamesBeat 2011 startup contest, and you can see why. The game provides a clever introduction to the lucrative possibilities of upcycling, the use of recyclable elements to make new products. (One nit: the horrible music. I had to mute it.)

Trash Tycoon has players collecting glass, organic, plastic, architectural elements, paper, and jewelry. By using other tools like worms for composting, players are shown the kinds of useful products that can be made from recyclable goods.

The game mimics TerraCycle's real-world business model.

The New Jersey-based company is known for its recycling "brigades" in which anyone can mail in recyclable items needed by TerraCycle in exchange for two cents per item being sent to their charity of choice. Shipping for the items is paid for by TerraCycle. Using any box, participants simply print out a label for it, and mail in their items.

Using this method, TerraCycle has made the Garbage Garbage can , a garbage can made from old chip bags and the rubber elastic left over from the production of baby diapers. Other products includes bicycle chain picture frames, Capri Sun drink bag totes, pencil cases from cookie wrappers, circuit board coasters, Clif Bar duffel bags, and Kashi place mats, to name a few from its hundreds of quirky-looking products.

The game has a real-world component as well.

People who contribute recyclable waste to TerraCycle's real-life brigades and facilities will earn game points.

Just like TerraCycle's real-world product placement advertising in which it utilizes wrapper logos to contribute to product design as with its Skittles Eco Kite and Target ReTote, the Facebook game will also feature sponsorship by showing trash wrappers with various brand logos, according to Guerillapps.

About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.

 

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