Have you ever wondered what it would take for your business to be certified as zero waste? If so, you’re not alone. In recent years, there’s been a growing movement of businesses striving to operate more sustainably and achieve zero waste certification. But what does it mean to be zero waste? And what would it take for your business to achieve such a status?
A zero-waste certification tells the world that your business is sustainable and does not produce any waste from its operations. More specifically, any waste that is being produced is not being disposed of in landfills and instead is being reused or recycled.
In this blog, we talk about how Waste Control can empower your efforts toward zero waste certification. From our innovative waste management solutions to our commitment to sustainability, we’ll show you how we can help you achieve your zero waste goals.
What is Zero Waste Certification?
There are many ways to reduce waste, but achieving zero waste certification requires a comprehensive and systematic approach.
The Zero Waste International Alliance defines zero waste as “the conservation of all resources using responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning them and without discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or public health.”
To be certified as a zero-waste facility, businesses must show that they are committed to reducing their waste output and preventing pollution. Certification is achieved by implementing best management practices for waste reduction, resource conservation, and pollution prevention.
To be truly zero waste, a business must take care of its entire waste stream end to end and ensure that no residual waste product is being discarded in a landfill or by other means.
Reduce-reuse-recycle is the mantra to follow if you are to be a zero-waste business. Reducing whatever types of waste you produce to the maximum extent possible is critical. Reusing materials will also help in reducing the waste that needs to be dealt with. Finally, finding ways to recycle all the other types of waste still in the waste stream will ensure that nothing is being disposed of.
Why Should you Aim for a Zero-waste Certification?
There are many benefits to becoming zero-waste certified, such as:
- Showing your commitment to sustainability: A zero-waste certification demonstrates your company’s dedication to reducing its environmental impact. This can help you attract and retain eco-conscious customers and employees.
- Improving your bottom line: Reducing waste can save your business money by reducing disposal costs and increasing efficiency. Waste disposal costs can be quite a significant chunk of expenses which, if not controlled, can spiral out of control very easily. A zero-waste approach can increase the costs temporarily but will be more sustainable cost-wise for you in the long run.
- Enhancing your brand image: Achieving zero-waste status can improve your company’s public image and differentiate you from competitors who are not making the same commitment to sustainability becoming zero-waste certified, but here are a few of the most important ones.
- Zero waste certification can help you attract and retain employees who are environmentally conscious and passionate about making a difference. Being a sustainable business is found to improve employee morale and make your business more attractive to prospective employees.
What Steps Should you Take to Achieve a Zero-waste Certification?
A zero-waste certification is not easy to get. If it were, all businesses would be trying for it. Achieving a zero-waste status takes a comprehensive waste management strategy and commitment from your whole organization. Here are some things you should do to achieve zero waste certification.
Get Started with a Complete Audit of your Waste
One of the best places to start is to evaluate your entire waste management approach starting with the types of waste you produce and the quantities you produce it in. This is a great way to understand your waste stream in-depth and collect important data that will help you figure out the next steps.
The insights from the audit will give you information about your waste collection practices, waste recycling rates, and the total waste that is being disposed of in landfills/incinerators and will also help you measure the environmental impact you currently make.
The audit benchmark scores are important in keeping track of your progress and helping you understand where you stand over time
Implement a Source Separation Program
To get a zero waste certification for your business, you need to have a plan in place for waste segregation and reduction. Waste segregation is the process of separating different types of waste so that they can be recycled or disposed of more efficiently. Sorting waste is important as it ensures that the various waste materials are not contaminated and thus can be used for recycling later.
Some easy ways to get started with waste segregation are to set up recycling bins for different types of materials and make sure all of your employees know where they are located. You can also start composting any food waste or organic waste from your facility. Make sure that you have separate waste bins for
- Plastic waste such as plastic bottles/ packaging waste,
- Paper waste and cardboard
- Electronic waste
- Glass bottles and other glass materials
- Organic and food waste
- Hazardous waste materials
- Metal scraps
The waste separation process cannot happen as an additional process after the waste is generated and aggregated. It has to happen at the source so that there is no contamination of waste. Contaminated waste materials cannot be easily recycled and hence it will reduce the value they fetch.
Implement a Recycling System
Recycling is vital in ensuring that you get to zero waste. You can do some amount of recycling in-house such as composting food and organic waste. For other types of waste, finding recycling facilities that take these materials and use them to produce other goods is a great idea. There are vendors both in the US and outside who will help you with this.
In the case of many waste commodities, you will be able to command a good price if the materials are of good quality and are being treated and processed properly. OCC (Old Corrugated Cardboard) and paper products, plastic, and metal scrap are all recycled by facilities overseas and they will buy these baled waste commodities from you. Finding the right vendors who will take these waste products and will recycle them is a key part of moving closer to a zero-waste business.
Involve your Employees and Vendors
When it comes to being zero waste, one of the most important things you can do is make sure that all of your employees are on board with your efforts. You need to educate them about what zero waste means and why it’s important to your business. Once they understand the concept, they can start brainstorming ways to reduce the amount of waste your business produces.
Their cooperation is vital in ensuring that you are sticking with your waste separation plan and taking solid steps to ensure that your waste management is as efficient as possible. Buy-in from your employees, vendors, and other stakeholders is critical to achieve results.
Measure, Track, and Optimize
Finally, it is also important to keep track of your progress and document your success to stay on top of the strategy. A zero-waste approach is not a one-time approach. It takes consistent effort and constant monitoring to ensure that all waste is being dealt with responsibly.
It is also important to constantly optimize your approach so that you keep your costs under check and that your strategy is as efficient as possible. Measuring everything you do, analyzing the data for insights, and constantly fine-tuning your approach is the best way to go.
How can Waste Control Help you Achieve Zero Waste Certification?
Waste Control Inc. can help you achieve zero waste certification by providing you with the resources and knowledge necessary to successfully implement a zero waste management system. Our team has certified TRUE experts and years of experience in developing and implementing zero-waste programs and can provide you with the support you need to make the transition to zero waste. We also offer training and education on zero waste principles, so that you can learn how to effectively reduce, reuse, and recycle materials in your workplace.
We are also a leading waste management service provider that has helped hundreds of businesses streamline their solid waste management efforts and achieve greater efficiency in waste management at lesser costs. Our work with leading businesses has given us unmatched experience and expertise along with a vast network of vendors to help you align your waste management efforts and achieve a zero-waste certification.
Wondering how we do it? Let our experts tell you. Schedule a consultation now!