Many businesses, schools and communities across North America want to achieve zero waste, but “vague and often conflicting definitions” make it difficult, says Tom Carpenter, a director in WM’s sustainability services division.
The UL Environment claim validation, which recognizes entities that have achieved certain waste diversion milestones, sets a clear standard, WM says. While pursuit of zero waste is an on-going process of improvement, Carpenter says many organizations ask for intermediate benchmarks to validate their progress.
WM says it will help customers implement strategies to increase waste diversion rates, manage diversion programs on an on-going basis, and obtain the data required by UL Environment for the validation process. The tiered claim validation structure provides three claims for which customers can receive validation:
- The zero waste to landfill claim is validated by UL Environment when an organization can prove that it consistently achieves a landfill waste diversion rate of 100 percent.
- Virtually zero waste to landfill validation is for an organization that has achieved a landfill diversion rate of 98 percent or greater.
- The landfill diversion rate validation is for an organization that has achieved a landfill diversion rate of greater than or equal to 80 percent.
Once the waste diversion data is validated by UL Environment, organizations can include the UL Environment claim validation mark on marketing materials.
Carpenter says organizations can also benefit from the designation by promoting their leadership in environmental stewardship and acquiring this data for use in supplier scorecards or other sustainability-related publications and filings.
He says that because the waste diversion claims are transparent and clearly defined, organizations will be able to demonstrate their exact level of environmental leadership to the marketplace. This type of leadership can translate into improved market share and competitiveness.
More than 75 communities have recycled 179 million pounds of materials in one year and citizens have collected $4 million in rewards under a program launched last year by Waste Management and recycling incentive company Recyclebank.
Waste Management, which invested in Recyclebank’s parent company Recycle Rewards in 2011, plans to expand the program to more than 20 additional communities over the next several months.