What is TRUE Zero Waste Certification?

You may be familiar with zero waste lifestyle choices. These choices could include using compostable or reusable cutlery, swapping out paper towels for cloth towels, or composting your food scraps. There is no question that these efforts are worthwhile, but they do not address industrial waste or offer a systems approach to waste.

To address this problem, Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) offers a zero-waste certification program for businesses and other organizations. The program is known as TRUE, which stands for Total Resource Use and Efficiency.

According to TRUE and the Zero Waste International Alliance, waste is a sign of inefficiency. While businesses might not always seem to care about protecting people or the planet, they usually do care about efficiency and cutting costs. TRUE has certified more than 180 organizations around the world. 

Here are a few examples of how TRUE certification has helped businesses: 

  • American Licorice Company saved $3,000 a year by selling their candy waste. 
  • Kilroy Realty and Salesforce implemented a waste reduction strategy that resulted in $78,000 worth of savings. 
  • According to one study, China’s textile industry could save $48 billion by minimizing waste within the textile industry’s supply chain. 

How does TRUE work? 

For businesses to earn recognition for a TRUE certified project, physical facilities and their operations must meet seven project requirements and earn at least 31 points on a TRUE Zero Waste scorecard. There is the potential to reach 81 points, with options for earning different levels of certification, depending on the points earned. Opportunities for credits are organized into 15 categories and each credit involves the submission of documentation that proves the credit was met. 

The system works similarly to LEED certifications. These are certifications given to buildings that have reduced their ecological footprint. You have probably seen a maple leaf with the word, LEED, on several buildings. GBCI is the umbrella organization that certifies organizations for LEED, TRUE, and many other sustainability-related certifications. 

What are some examples?

As an example of a TRUE certified project, Titan Florida recently earned a TRUE Platinum Zero Waste certification, which is the highest level of certification. This is a first for the cement industry. To achieve this certification, Titan Florida’s plant, known as “Pennsuo”, diverted about 97% of its waste from landfill and incineration. Here are some of the programs that they initiated: 

  • Repurposing used office supplies and materials
  • Grass recycling/mulching
  • Composting
  • Adopting environmentally conscious  purchasing (aka Environmentally Preferred Purchasing /EPP) guidelines

True certifications are also applicable to other types of organizations. Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) in New York City achieved a gold TRUE Zero Waste Certification for its 75 Battery Place facility. BPCA is a waterfront community with public parks and green spaces, so its mission is very much in line with protecting the environment. BPCA’s zero waste initiatives started out with educational programs for its staff. Other initiatives that resulted in a 90% diversion rate from landfills include the following: 

  • Distributing reusable service ware to all employees
  • Implementing monthly waste audits
  • Creating a seed paper program from outdated programming calendars
  • Reaching out to vendors for alternative sustainable packaging materials 

TRUE Zero Waste Certifications add an element of credibility to organizations working to eliminate waste within their operations. The program also allows for creativity in the process since every organization is different. Any organization can work to eliminate waste and reap the financial awards with the right amount of determination, innovation, and collaboration. 

What can an individual do?

If you are interested in TRUE certification and bringing zero waste initiatives to an organization or community near you, you can learn more by becoming a TRUE Zero Waste Advisor, contacting a TRUE Zero Waste Advisor via the directory, or exploring the TRUE Zero Waste website

You can also simply start a zero-waste initiative within your organization. Here are some questions to get you started: 

  • What can you measure or what data is available around waste? 
  • Who are the key stakeholders and/or who else is interested in this topic? 
  • What is one simple thing that you can do to get started with zero waste? 
  • Are there waste management costs that you could cut? 

Zero waste initiatives can save an organization thousands of dollars every year. They can also play an important role in climate mitigation and in diverting valuable resources away from the landfill. 

Work Cited

Battery Park City Authority. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://true.gbci.org/battery-park-city-authority

Battery Park City Sustainability Plan. (2020, April). Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://bpca.ny.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/20200421-BPC-Sustainability-Plan-FINAL-spreads.pdf

Company, R. (2020, September 17). Roanoke cement company’s Outreach honored by industry peers. Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/roanoke-cement-companys-outreach-honored-by-industry-peers-301133223.html

McCandless, M. (2020, November 04). GBCI surpasses 1,000 TRUE Advisor Professionals. Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://facilityexecutive.com/2020/10/gbci-surpasses-1000-true-advisor-professionals/

Sustainable Ratings, SITES and TRUE, Release Safety First Pilot Credits. (2020, June 24). Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://facilityexecutive.com/2020/06/sustainable-ratings-sites-and-true-release-safety-first-pilot-credits/

Titan America, L. (2020, October 27). Titan Florida Earns CEMENT Industries’ first TRUE Platinum zero WASTE CERTIFICATION. Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/titan-florida-earns-cement-industries-first-true-platinum-zero-waste-certification-301160674.html

Titan Florida Earns CEMENT Industries’ first TRUE Platinum zero WASTE CERTIFICATION. (2020, October 27). Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://finance.yahoo.com/news/titan-florida-earns-cement-industries-131300155.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAADJmx0LQgMvKxNcqEVacnNKk6NhgRU0eMY9vqtSjTm8OLocT_9rxABzzCUAhh69qVyIk0FYW4x4WHk_ynBXV_8iLbp3brZyUXvJ-KYV6IrgQ-SwY3iI8VRx_Djk_pX6GctIK3TkBDt88ylcRJpOHJMa-CooRrhZyHVNITMlMGE_P

Westrup, S. (2020, July 29). Cost-saving strategies through TRUE’s “Redesign” credits. Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://true.gbci.org/cost-saving-strategies-through-trues-redesign-credits

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