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A Q&A with BIOME on TerraCycle, their exclusive recycling option in store.

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At 'That Red House' we are delighted that you can purchase our products though the stunning Biome stores. Biome's pursuits to help the planet catch it's breath are enviable and the extra services they offer their customers, to help them do the same, need to be shared. Here is a little Q & A on their exclusive in-store recycling program which helps customers go the extra mile and recycle the once un-recyclable!

1. Why TerraCycle Recycling?

As an environmentally friendly store with a strong zero waste focus, we are continually searching for solutions that help our customers reduce their environmental impact. Biome’s complimentary TerraCycle program was developed to provide our customers with options to further reduce their environmental footprint by offering recycling options they can’t access elsewhere. Currently there is a problem that most skin care containers and stationery items cannot be recycled through household council recycling bins. We chose to partner with TerraCycle as it’s a well-established international recycling and upcycling company that provides closed-loop solutions for these items. They take hard-to-recycle packaging and turn it into affordable innovative products, diverting the items from landfill and giving them a second life. 

2. How does it work and what are the points of difference from other recycling options?

Our complimentary in-store TerraCycle program is available to all Biome customers. We collect and recycle at Biome:

  1. Cosmetic, skin care and hair care packaging*;
  2. Packaging from instore purchases;
  3. Pens, pencils, markers and highlighters;
  4. Wine corks;
  5. CDs, cassettes, memory sticks and other data storage; and
  6. Toothbrush and toothpaste packaging*.
    *All containers must be completely cleaned out for us to take them.

Once the bins are full, we ship them to TerraCycle to be processed into new items, successfully diverting the used items from landfill. Biome covers the costs of these bins as a service to our community and environment.

TerraCycle’s main point of difference is their unique organisational model that offers 13 recycling options to an international market, unlike other recycling programs that only focus on a single recycling option for local areas. To reach a larger market, TerraCycle partner with major consumer product companies, retailers, manufacturers, municipalities, and small businesses across 20 different countries to collect the used items which are then turned into innovative products and largescale projects such as community gardens and playgrounds.

We are helping TerraCycle expand their reach by making TerraCycle bins available for purchase through our online store. They are a perfect closed-loop solution for any workplace where used items accumulate including home offices, tuck shops, schools, small businesses and community groups. Business owners can purchase TerraCycle bins to encourage their staff to recycle various items including coffee capsules, office supplies, pens, snack wrappers, mailing labels and tape, CDs, gloves and more.

3. When and how was it implemented?

Since opening our first physical store in 2005, Biome has always accepted items for recycling that were hard for people to do elsewhere.  Initially, we accepted corks, batteries, mobile phones and print cartridges, but there are now widespread systems for those so we no longer do!  We have also accepted bras for Project Uplift and soft plastics for RedCycle for many years.  Our complementary TerraCycle program was launched in mid-2017.

We worked with TerraCycle to set up our recycling collection bins and structure our program. We then promoted our recycling service through our blog, social media channels and in-store. Our store assistants were asked to inform customers of our new recycling options and the benefits of participating in this program. We have received great feedback from our customers and have collected a significant number of used items for recycling.

4. How much is recycled through your stores

Biome’s TerraCycle program has been operating for 6 months and so far, we have filled two boxes of used items. We receive positive feedback and questions from our customers every day.  Customers are happily bringing in used beauty packaging, and stationery to recycle with some customers going one step further by doing the office rounds to collect all unwanted pens.

Biome has always operated with the highest standards of ethical, social and environmental performance. We have always been mindful of our waste and tried to reduce it in all aspects of the business.

Along with our instore TerraCycle program, we have an extensive recycling and reuse policy at all locations which includes paper, cardboard, soft and hard plastics, and composting staff kitchen waste. Our online warehouse reuses all cardboard and paper packaging for orders. We ask suppliers to avoid using plastic packaging in deliveries to us and where possible, purchase products with minimal or no packaging, or at the very least recyclable or compostable packaging.

A look at Tracey Bailey, Founder of Biome

Tracey Bailey, graduated from Queensland University of Technology in 1989 with a Bachelor of Business Communication.  Her career in public relations saw her work with multi-national companies and Government organisations in Queensland, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

These experiences expanded her thoughts about sustainability and social justice.  A trip to see the endangered Orangutans on Kalimantan in Indonesia, ignited the fire in Tracey.  She decided she could not be part of a system that was causing such harm to these majestic but vulnerable creatures.

In 2003, Tracey chose to stop worrying that companies were getting away with greenwashing and to live the changes she wished to see in the world. Tracey launched, Biome, Australia’s first online eco store - a retail store that would make it easy for people to choose carefully vetted environmentally and socially responsible products.

Since launching, Tracey has built a sustainable business that supports 60 employees, hundreds of suppliers, and the community through education and sponsorships. Tracey has expanded Biome to four Brisbane stores, become Australia’s first certified B Corporation retailer, helped Biome customers save over 6.7 million single use items from waste in 12 months, and become the world’s first Palm Oil Investigations approved retailer.

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