Recycling bin

Source: Unsplash

Aluminium is “awesome” but bioplastic is “a farce”. So says Ryan Smith, CEO & founder of US recycling startup Recyclops, on the latest episode of podcast Sustainable Packaging (available now).

In ‘Recyclops is changing the way we recycle’, he explains how he launched the company in 2013 because 50 million US homes didn’t have access to recycling.

Founded on the principle that “everyone should have access to sustainable living”, Recyclops was unintentionally named after an alter-ego of The Office character Dwight Schrute. A desire for swift collections led to an Uber-style fleet of gig workers, who pick up sacks of homes’ recyclables.

It’s interesting but verges on fluffy at times. Host Cory Connors is apparently in awe of Smith, and even takes time to praise Recyclops’ logo (which, OK, is pretty cool).

The sustainability entrepreneur is allowed to talk unchallenged. But he smartly anticipates cynical listeners’ questions, explaining, for instance, the advantages of Recyclops’ single-use plastic sacks over reusable ones.

Smith also offers home truths about compostable bioplastic. It’s not the viable alternative to regular plastic many believe. It requires industrial composting – but only six facilities exist in the US. So it usually gets dumped in landfill, where it slowly releases harmful methane.

But there are still many routes to a circular economy, insists Smith, who’s eyeing global expansion for Recyclops.

Both his ambition and optimism are heartening.