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Terracycle taps Facebook game to encourage connection with consumers

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Terracycle, the Trenton upcycling company, has found a way to cash in the success of social media, while guiding its customers through the company's growth.

Soon, Terracycle will be launching "Trash Tycoon," a game for Facebook that will allow players to create the products that Terracycle makes with recycled goods.

"We thought it was a great opportunity to cash in on a hugely growing industry," said Albe Zakes, vice president of media relations, who has been heading the project for 16 months. "And for us, it makes a lot of sense, because it's a way to further engage our consumers."

Zakes said the game fit well into Terracycle's mission to make environmental conservation fun and interesting, especially for kids. It also helps its customers to understand the transition in business plan the company is making.

"In the Facebook game, in addition to making the Capri Sun backpack or lunch box, you can also build a plastic extrusion factory," Zakes said. "I think it will really help people to understand the jump that we've made, and why we've made that jump. For us, it's a matter of scale — we're collecting all of this stuff, and we now need to reuse billions, instead of millions, of pouches and wrappers — and it will be the same thing in the game."

Zakes said the game was developed for free by New York-based Guerrillapps, a "statement of the Terracycle brand's power." Terracycle is doing the majority of promotion work, in addition to site hosting and bringing partners on board. Terracycle will receive 25 percent of any advertising revenue brought in, and the game will have perks that can be purchased with real money, similar to other popular Facebook games. Terracycle will not receive a cut from that revenue.

"You'll be able to earn money for nonprofits through what you do in the game, and if you're a Terracycle brigade member … and you play Trash Tycoons, when you send something in, in real life you're going to get a bonus in Trash Tycoon," he said. "It's this tie-in to virtual action to actions in the real world."

Zakes said they are currently working on tying together the virtual and real-life rewards and finding other partner companies to get involved with the project. There will be a soft launch of the game this week, with a full launch the first week of August.

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