What Is Zero Waste?
This seems obvious: Zero waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused, and no trash is sent to landfills or incinerators. The process recommended is one similar to the way that resources are reused in nature.
An Overview of Zero Waste to Landfill Certification
Various Zero Waste to Landfill Certification programs exist, all of which are designed to encourage businesses to engage in environmentally sustainable practices. Some companies take the term, “zero waste,” literally. They reuse, recycle, compost, or safely dispose of all their solid waste without use of landfills. Others consider “zero waste” as more of an ideal, and strive to drastically reduce the amount of waste that must be relegated to landfills. Presently, there is no universal standard by which “zero waste” is measured.
What’s the Value of Zero Waste to Landfill Certification?
Zero Waste to Landfill certification by a respected third party lends credibility to a company’s efforts to divert most, if not all of its solid waste, away from landfills.
Which Organizations offer Zero Waste to Landfill Certification?
There are numerous organizations that offer Zero Waste to Landfill Certification. Among the most prominent are: U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC); NSF International; Underwriters Laboratory (UL); Intertek; The Carbon Trust; and Green Circle Certified. Each of their programs has slightly different standards and certify based on different degrees of waste diversion.
For example, UL offers three landfill waste diversion claim validations: Zero Waste to Landfill for facilities that consistently achieve a landfill waste diversion rate of 100%; Virtually Zero Waste to Landfill for facilities that have achieved a landfill diversion rate of 98% or greater; and Landfill Waste Diversion for facilities that have achieved a landfill diversion rate of greater than or equal to 80%.
Intertek also has separate certifications for waste to landfill diversion rates: Zero Waste to Landfill for diversion rates of at least 99%; Advanced Waste Diversion for facilities that have reached 85% to 95% diversion rates; and Near Zero Waste to Landfill certification for facilities reaching landfill diversion rates from 95% to 99%.
The Benefits of Waste Diversion
Benefits derived from zero waste initiatives are multifold, including monetary savings, more efficient use of natural resources, reduction of the release of contaminants (entrained in the waste) to soil, water, and air, greenhouse gas reduction, and energy efficiency.
Did You Know?
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, for every curbside garbage can full of consumer waste, there are another 87 cans’ worth of waste coming from industries in the manufacture and packaging of finished products. This means that recycling doesn’t begin to address the waste management problem.
Since 1989, HSA Golden has provided environmental engineering and consulting services to clients all over the world. Our practice areas include solid and hazardous waste management, waste-to-energy, site development engineering, environmental due diligence, and litigation support, among others. From governmental agencies and multinational, publicly traded corporations to smaller, single-office real estate and legal firms, we are proud of not only the relationships we have built, but also of the trust that our clients place in us.