When it comes to zero-waste certified businesses, Las Vegas has been a desert — but this week, a minority-owned coconut supplier announced that it has received TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) Zero Waste certification for its tapping and branding facility. Coco Taps, a local company that supplies fresh coconuts to resorts, restaurants and convenience stores in Las Vegas, California and Arizona, diverts 95% of the waste produced at its Las Vegas facility from landfill and incineration.
To achieve the certification, Coco Taps works with its vendors to eliminate unnecessary packaging, reuses all of its shipping boxes, provides zero waste training for employees, and encourages customers to compost the coconuts and reuse the taps. Coco Taps’ corporate goal is to achieve 100% waste diversion from landfill by 2020.
Josh Prigge, a Las Vegas-based sustainability consultant at Sustridge and member of the Coco Taps Regenerative Business Advisory Board, says that Coco Taps’ drive toward zero waste makes smart business sense, as the company has been able to increase recycling revenue and eliminate waste hauling costs. This can “really add up when you are diverting almost all of your waste from the landfill,” Prigge says. Prigge, a TRUE advisor, helped guide Coco Taps through the zero waste certification process.
Kellogg is another company that received TRUE certification and cut costs. 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, Kellogg reduced the cost of its waste management program by almost 80%, the company said last year.
TRUE certification is a whole systems approach aimed at changing how materials flow through society, according to Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), the independent organization that recognizes excellence in green business practice and performance globally. TRUE “encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused,” helps facilities become more resource efficient, and demonstrates to the world what a company is doing to minimize waste output, GBCI says. 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.
In addition to supplying coconuts to the hospitality sector, Coco Taps sells what it calls “the only resealable coconut beverage system available in the market.” A contestant on the ABC reality series, Shark Tank, Coco Taps is headquartered in Las Vegas and is certified by the National Minority Supplier Development Council as a Minority Business Enterprise.
In addition to Coco Taps and Kellogg, other companies that have TRUE certified facilities for zero waste include Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, Cintas, Nature’s Path Foods, Fetzer Vineyards, and Tesla.
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.