The 2014 U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) Conference, was held in Atlanta this past May and attracted a variety of participants, from waste vendors and consultants to businesses and governmental organizations, all who share a vested interest in developing or improving zero waste practices.
“Zero Waste” has become a familiar term in many corporate facilities and operations departments, though the definition varies greatly. As indicated throughout the conference, a fundamental purpose of the USZWBC is to create a solid foundation to advance the integrity and credibility of Zero Waste. This has led the organization to create the first third-party Zero Waste Business Certification program for facilities to meet the Zero Waste principles outlined by the Zero Waste International Alliance.
This year’s conference was held in conjunction with one of the first “Become a Certified Zero Waste Business” training courses. My colleague, Micheal Albert, Senior Business Solutions Engineer and I attended the training designed to review the rigorous criteria and process of achieving the certification.
Among the important requirements for the certification, businesses must have a Zero Waste policy in place and achieve 90 percent overall diversion from landfill and incineration for non-hazardous waste. In addition to saving money, becoming more efficient, managing risk, and reinvesting resources, businesses with flourishing Zero Waste programs can build the commitment into their brand identity and demonstrate that they are environmentally conscious members of their communities.
The certification process begins with a formal application in addition to submitting twelve months of waste, recycling and diversion data. This is followed by the completion of the Certification Scorecard, where businesses must earn a minimum of 31 out of a possible 80 points in categories such as “Zero Waste Purchasing” or “Upstream Management.” Upon completion of the scorecard and supplemental documentation, a USZWBC staff member visits the site to review documentation, complete visual analyses, and interview employees regarding Zero Waste processes and practices. Based on the number of points earned, businesses can achieve a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum certification.
Since 2013, varying levels of the certification have been awarded to distribution centers and manufacturing facilities across industries. With our team of Zero Waste professionals, Ecova supports our clients’ environmental initiatives, from analyzing diversion data to developing comprehensive and custom Zero Waste strategies. We are excited and eager to help our clients create value and save money through the achievement of their Zero Waste goals, whether these goals are just being defined or are advanced and being refined.