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NJ company putting garbage found on beaches to use in France

Head & Shoulders shampoo bottle
SSM Photography

TRENTON — Plastic waste that washed ashore or was left on the sand by beachgoers will make up to 25 percent of a first-of-its-kind product hitting shelves this summer in France. And it wouldn’t be possible without the help of a company in New Jersey.

The Head & Shoulders product, according to Procter & Gamble, will be the first recyclable shampoo bottle comprised specifically of recycled beach plastic.

But in order for P&G to get their hands on this plastic, they need assistance from Trenton-based TerraCycle, which prides itself on making the most out of hard-to-recycle materials.

The company, with a presence in more than 20 countries, is responsible for gathering the waste – specifically plastics – collected along the coast by organizations and charities that conduct local beach clean-up efforts. TerraCycle then forwards the materials to other companies responsible for sorting, cleaning and processing.

“So far in Europe, we’ve collected over 25,000 pounds of beach plastic in a few months of collections,” said Brett Stevens, TerraCycle’s global project lead on this initiative. “When we expand this program to America and specifically New Jersey, we expect to see dozens of shipments along the Jersey Shore – somewhere in the neighborhood of thousands of pounds of material coming off the beaches here in our home state.”

Clean Ocean Action, which performs two “beach sweeps” in New Jersey each year, has already been contacted by TerraCycle regarding the effort, according to executive director Cindy Zipf.

“Whatever they want to take, we’ll give it to them,” she said.

Debris collected in Ventnor during Beach Sweeps
Debris collected in Ventnor during Clean Ocean Action’s Beach Sweeps (Facebook via Clean Ocean Action)

Plastic pieces, caps, and food wrappers and bags were the top-three types of debris collected on New Jersey beaches during COA’s 2015 sweeps, according to their latest report. Volunteers are hitting the sand on Apr. 22 and Oct. 21 of this year as well, rain or shine.

Stevens said there’s no specific timeline on when the special edition shampoo bottles will reach the United States, but his prediction is within the next year.

He noted it’s not rare for products to be comprised of recycled materials, but those materials are typically “untraceable.”

“These beach plastics are unique because they have a story behind them,” he said.

Announcement of the green initiative occurred at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland earlier this month.

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