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Cheetos bags, diapers remade into trash cans

How green is your trash can? Recycling firm TerraCycle has created plastic garbage cans out of chip bags. The process reportedly produces about 40 percent less CO2 emissions compared with virgin plastic.


The company that turned Cheetos bags into MP3 speakers is now transforming Chester Cheetah into 32-gallon garbage cans.

New Jersey-based recycling company TerraCycle is teaming up with Pioneer Plastics USA to make heavy-duty trash cans out of recycled polypropylene that was once chip bags.

The cans are 80 percent post-consumer--most of the material is from chip bags collected by TerraCycle's Chip Bag Brigade program. About 20 percent is from scraps of rubber elastic trimming that are leftover in the production of disposable diapers.

The old Cheetos and other chip bags are first shredded, and then run through a densifying machine that employs heat and pressure to turn the shreds into a solid material. The material is extruded into plastic pellets, which can be used to make trash cans through injection molding. It takes about 500 chip bags to make each can.

According to environmental footprint studies commissioned by TerraCycle, using old chip bags to make the cans results in about 40 percent less CO2 emissions compared with using virgin plastic.

TerraCycle is hoping to market the recycled can, provisionally named The Garbage Garbage Can, at home improvement stores starting in early 2011. The manufacturer's suggested retail price for the 32-gallon can with a lid will be $20.

With more than 180 recycled products, TerraCycle sells everything from tote bags to pencil cases to kites made from recycled plastic. Among its unusual offerings are picture frames fashioned from old bicycle chains, circuit board desk clocks, and fences that were once drink pouches.

As seen on the National Geographic Channel's "Garbage Moguls" show featuring the recycled trash cans, TerraCycle is also working to turn junked CDs into fishing lures. Check out the vid below; the show airs today.

Founded by Princeton dropout Tom Szaky, TerraCycle collects waste from millions of people, donating money to charity for each item, and aims to save thousands of tons of packaging from entering landfills each year.