The Zero Waste Standard, a recent global certification that allows businesses to show the degree to which their waste sources are prevented, reused, or diverted from the landfill, was launched on April 28 by a Bay Area third-party certification firm. The scaling credential recognizes small steps forward and gives companies a more realistic way to demonstrate their sustainability progress.
SCS executive vice president, Stanley Mathuram said that this is a different kind of zero-waste standard. It seeks to reach businesses where they are on their waste reduction path at their particular sites, by recognizing waste disposal that has already been accomplished and helping to push waste management toward the zero goal post.
Unlike other standards, which require at least 90% waste disposal to be certified, the current standard awards approval to those who achieve a score of 50% or above, with the actual percentage expressed on the certificate. A facility is described as Zero waste that achieves a diversion rate of 99% or higher.
Cradle to Cradle, a globally recognized measure for circular economy goods, also awards certifications on a sliding scale, with basic, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum standards of achievement levels.
In recent years, as businesses' environmental promises begin to lose their luster in the face of rampant greenwashing, the need for transparency has risen dramatically. As a growing portion of the industry moves to the circular economy, public records and third-party certifications are becoming increasingly important in gaining the industry's confidence, especially in terms of waste.
The Zero Waste Standard considers waste diversion at the facility level, allowing businesses to report waste diversion more accurately. Companies will benchmark best practices at one venue and roll them out throughout their whole portfolio by certifying at the facility stage.
It also acknowledges waste-to-energy accomplishment on a case-by-case basis and encourages hazardous waste disposal to count against total diversion. The standard offers a more cost-effective solution for businesses with multiple locations, and it includes annual audits on-site by an SCS representative.
The operations manager for the SCS Zero Waste Program,Inna Kitaychik, said that the standard's versatile solution accommodates "real-life business needs."
She added that they saw a need for companies to have greater consistency in documenting their waste reduction and diversion activities in order to demonstrate their contribution to sustainability and the environment. They created this standard to allow businesses to be more honest about their sustainability success and to give them the trust to correctly report and communicate their waste diversion data.
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