Four Lessons in Creative Repurposing

Cargill Meat Solutions isn't the first business to find gold in the Dumpster. Four object lessons in creative repurposing.

Plant Food

Trash: Worms produce their body weight in waste every 24 hours.
Salvage: Terracycle converts organic garbage destined for landfills into environmentally friendly liquid plant food (from worm poop).
Cash: Terracycle is now sold in Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Whole Foods, and expects to generate $15 million in revenue in 2009.


Vintage Clothing

Trash: Americans throw away 21 billion pounds of clothing and fabrics each year.
Salvage: Some 2.5 billion pounds of those clothes end up in resale shops such as Savers, the largest private vintage emporium, with 210 stores.
Cash: The industry reported a 35% sales boost in 2008. Vintage is trendy too: Supermodel Agyness Deyn is known for her "proper mad" outfits.


Rubber Flooring

Trash: More than 290 million tires are scrapped each year in the United States.
Salvage: Diamond Safety Concepts buys finely ground used tires and then makes and sells playground covers and athletic fields.
Cash: Crumb rubber sells for $700 per ton, and Diamond Safety Concepts experienced a 20% sales bump in 2008.


Pringles Potato Chips

Trash: During the usual chip-making process, some bits of the spud are discarded due to size.
Salvage: Procter & Gamble's Pringles convert the whole tater into dehydrated potato flakes to form a dough that's rolled and cut into chips.
Cash: Pringles is a billion-dollar-plus brand that saw double-digit sales growth in the third quarter of 2008.