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How to Track Materials, Redesign and Reach Zero Waste with TRUE Certification

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Companies like Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, Kellogg, and Tesla that are leaders in sustainability continually work to understand and track how materials flow through their facilities, how to redesign products for a minimum of wasted material, and how to reach zero waste. This week, Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) announced a new brand identity for its zero waste rating system that helps companies do just that.

The newly branded TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) Zero Waste rating system is designed to help businesses and facilities achieve their zero waste goals through project certification. The TRUE team works with organizations across industries to help them set benchmarks, educate employees, find solutions that move them closer to zero waste, and track performance.

TRUE is a “whole systems approach that helps organizations understand how materials flow through their facilities and identify redesign opportunities so that all products are reused,” according to GBCI. TRUE is administered by GBCI and is meant to serve as a complement to the LEED green building rating system created by the US Green Building Council (USGBC).

Mahesh Ramanujam, president and chief executive of the USGBC and GBCI, tells organizations that they can become more resource efficient, discover potential new revenue streams and save money by “closing the loop on waste.”

Currently, there are 88 TRUE-certified facilities around the world. Microsoft, Tesla, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Nature’s Path, Earth Friendly Products, Raytheon, Cintas and Northrop Grumman, among others, have facilities certified under the program.

Certification Requirements

In order to qualify for TRUE certification:

  • Company or project seeking certification has a zero waste policy in place;
  • Project has achieved an average of 90% or greater overall diversion from landfill, incineration (waste-to-energy) and the environment for solid, non-hazardous wastes for the most recent 12 months. Diverted materials are reduced, reused, recycled, composted and/or recovered for productive use in nature or the economy;
  • Project meets all federal, state/provincial, and local solid waste and recycling laws and regulations;
  • Project complies with all air, water and land discharge permits required for collection, handling or processing of materials;
  • Project has data documenting a base year of waste diversion, and measurements since the base year that adjust for changes in size, type and nature of business;
  • Project submits 12 months of waste diversion data to GBCI annually to keep the certification current;
  • Project does not exceed a 10% contamination level for any materials that leave the site;
  • Company submits a case study of zero waste initiatives to be published on the TRUE website.

Kellogg Waste Effort Results

By dumpster diving, identifying waste streams, and asking employees to find ways to both recycle and reduce the amount of waste from its fruit snack manufacturing operation, the company has reduced the cost of its waste management program by almost 80%. The focus has now shifted to reducing the amount of waste generated on the front end, as well as implementing reuse systems for transportation and storage. For example, Kellogg’s Chicago facility has reduced the size of its finished goods packaging by 21%, and many of its conveyors have been updated to eliminate food waste.

As a direct result of these zero waste policies and practices, the facility reached a diversion rate of 95.5% and achieved TRUE Zero Waste certification for our facility by reaching a diversion rate of 95.5 percent over the last 12 months.

Certification Details

The TRUE Zero Waste certification, previously administered by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council, was acquired by GBCI in 2016.

Rating systems in the sustainability space are generally meant to apply rigorous standards that verify performance and encourage sustainable practices that are economically, environmentally and socially responsible.

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