Certification: Charting Your Journey to Zero Waste

Photo by Luke Richardson on Unsplash

Welcome to the fourth and last blog of the series about zero waste and circularity for businesses and organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

The blogs have shown why zero waste is important and how it can help businesses improve their financial performance and contribute to a better planet and society. You missed them? No worries, click *here* to access all of them.

This blog looks at Zero Waste Certifications, the process that brings all these aspects together and helps your organization get closer to its goals. 

In this blog 

Zero Waste Certifications in Newfoundland and Labrador

Before diving into why certification is a wise business decision, let’s have a look at the two non-profit certification bodies we’re affiliated with and some key things to know. 
Through Planeet Consulting, the first zero-waste consulting firm in our province, we work with *Zero Waste Canada* (ZWC) and *TRUE* (Total Resource Use and Efficiency). ZWC operates across the country and TRUE across the world. Both bodies follow the principles and definitions of the *Zero Waste International Alliance*, a network of international organizations working from the bottom-up towards a world without waste.

Zero Waste Canada

The TRUE Advisor certificate program and the related logo is a trademark owned by Green Business Certification Inc.™ and is used with permission

Planeet Consulting is affiliated with Zero Waste Canada and TRUE, two certifying bodies with global networks


Key aspects of Zero Waste certifications

  • Pre-certification levels. The pre-certification stage helps businesses get familiar with zero waste policies and practices before embarking on the certification. There’s no minimum diversion rate, on-site assessments, or need for annual renewal. In the TRUE system, *pre-certification* is optional, while in the Zero Waste Canada program, it’s part of the process and it’s called *On the Road to Zero Waste*.
  • One facility at a time. If your organization has more than one facility and you want to get them certified, you’d do each one independently. You could start with the facility you consider more manageable so that you can get familiar with the certification process and then move on to more complex facilities.
  • Diversion of a minimum of 90%. Diversion accounts for what’s being diverted through recycling and composting and also what’s being avoided through reducing and reusing practices.  
  • Reasonable registration and documentation review fees. The *TRUE fee* schedule is based on the square footage of the facility and *Zero Waste Canada’s* is based on the number of employees. Certification is an investment.

To learn more about both Zero Waste certifications and discuss what’s best for you, *contact us*! Remember we’re here to help you no matter where you currently stand on the Zero Waste spectrum or the size of your organization.  

Why Get Certified?

Zero Waste certification is a path and opportunity to focus on what’s going on with the materials that go through your facility. It’ll raise questions such as: are the materials coming in in excessive packaging? Is the full amount of materials being used or are part of them wasted? Are the products sold in excessive packaging? Is the organization paying too much in hauling fees? How’s the facility’s waste polluting the environment and the surrounding community? 

Zero Waste certification provides you with the tools to find the answers and even ask questions you haven’t thought about. The process starts at the moment your organization decides to invest time, energy, and money in doing so. And continues as it commits to reducing more and more waste each year.

Achieving the Zero Waste certification is both a rewarding milestone and the baseline upon which you can continue setting more ambitious goals and improving your practices, which will help your organization get closer and closer to its financial, social, and environmental goals. That’s why we say “Zero Waste is a journey more than a destination.”

As you read this blog, remember this: at Planeet Consulting, right here in Newfoundland and Labrador, we’re ready to guide you regardless of where you are in your zero waste efforts. *Contact us* to find out what your next step is. 


Zero Waste is a journey more than a destination


Looking Inward

As you go through the Zero Waste certification, you’ll find the resources that will help you review what’s going on inside your facility regarding the flow of the materials from the purchase policies, relationships with suppliers, to the management of the discards. 

The goal is to rethink and redesign the organization’s practices that will prevent waste in the first place. By rethinking and redesigning, your organization will become more efficient and less harmful. Waste reduction practices help uncover opportunities for avoiding costs and achieving high efficiency by closing loops through reusing, recycling, substituting and eliminating materials. 

Becoming more efficient will in turn help reduce costs e.g. hauling fees, purchasing expenses; and also the environmental and social impact by reducing the amount of waste that otherwise would end up polluting water, air, land, and people’s health. 

And as the saying goes “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” The certification will also support you in measuring the organization’s progress and achieving a superior understanding of the financial, environmental and social impact of your discards. This allows you to make decisions about how to further your waste reduction goals. 


You can’t manage what you don’t measure


As you move forward, you’ll be engaging, collaborating and sharing data with the employees across the organization. This is in itself an opportunity to *increase leadership and promote cultural change* that will help the organization pursue, achieve and maintain its zero-waste goals. Certification will give you the tools.

Looking Outward

In addition to looking inward, the Zero Waste certification will also connect with what’s outside the facility’s walls, that is, your consumers and stakeholders (your supply chain, community, regulators). You’ll be able to build trust with them by showing them that you have factual evidence of your facility’s social and environmental accountability. 

Building trust and demonstrating accountability helps you avoid the pitfalls of *greenwashing* i.e. making people believe that an organization is doing more to protect the environment than it really is. 

Why is this important? In a 2020 *IBM research study* of 18,980 consumers in 28 countries, 77% of respondents indicated sustainability and environmental responsibility are important for them. Among them, 77% said that they’re willing to pay a premium for brands that are sustainable and environmentally responsible.

With Zero Waste certification, you can demonstrate that your efforts are real.

What do you think? How do you think the Zero Waste certification can help YOUR organization? Please share your comments below.

SUMMARY

By becoming a Zero-Waste Certified business, you’ll become more sustainable environmentally, socially, and financially. You’ll be able to measure your impact, create a zero-waste culture inside and outside your walls, and build trust with stakeholders. The internal and external outcomes become part of the process, a result, and the basis to continue improving your performance, which can lead to larger and more innovative steps.

<meta charset="utf-8"><strong>Viviana Ramírez-Luna</strong>
Viviana Ramírez-Luna

Viviana is an Environmental Scientist (MSc) from Memorial University of NL, a Zero Waste Advisor with TRUE (Green Business Certification Inc.), and an Associate of Zero Waste Canada.

She’s the founder of Planeet Consulting, the first zero-waste firm in Newfoundland and Labrador whose mission is to move our province towards the circular economy and society.

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