Leadership Blog

Getting to Ground Level “Zero” Waste with USZWBC

Posted on June 13, 2014 | in Sustainability | by

The US Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) was an exciting discovery in a search to find a universal understanding of Zero Waste.  My benchmarking had found no credible organization or network bridging all of the solutions, practices, facts, opinions, and politics, …until now.

The USZWBC surfaced on my radar last year.  Formed in 2012, it is establishing itself as an organization whose respect, knowledge, and influence is rapidly growing in North America.  The vision of the USZWBC is to “create a solid foundation that advances the integrity and credibility of Zero Waste,” aligning itself with the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA).  In my words, their mission is to help organizations bring Zero Waste to reality.  USZWBC also has an active network of experts and practitioners, as well as a credible and comprehensive process for Zero Waste Certification.

Let’s go back to ground level “Zero” …What is Zero Waste?  For years, my team searched for a universally accepted definition from which to base our strategies and initiatives.  We found interpretations spanning the spectrum, from loose definitions around an 85% reduction, to a pure definition that included recycling human waste.  A standard definition for “Zero” that helped improve the business yet made a positive difference in society seemed to be elusive.  Not wanting to stand still, we independently defined our goal as Zero “Process Waste”, with allowances to compensate for banana peels, health center waste, and such.  Then, enter USZWBC.  We were pleased to learn that our definition was parallel to USZWBC’s, but we also learned important pieces that added significantly to our understanding and helped fine-tune our process.  USZWBC had answers, and more.

The USZWBC recently gathered for their 3rd annual Zero Waste Conference in Atlanta, Ga, with the theme “Creating Value through Zero Waste.”  Included were people from industry, government, academia, communities, and consulting, all searching for solutions, networks, best practices, and shared successes in their quest for Zero.  They also shared a belief that Zero Waste can be a reality, with many having already attained that goal.

I continue to get comments tentatively doubting whether Zero Waste is possible.  I assure you, Zero Waste is possible and is being brought to reality by many organizations.  In the process, they are gaining a competitive advantage!  Next week, FrontLine Focus will cover several lessons learned from the conference that can help a team build a strategy and execute Zero Waste.

This week, I suggest you review your strategy to get to “Ground Level Zero Waste”!  I encourage you to look at the USZWBC web site: http://uszwbc.org/.

Also, to learn of more Zero Waste Successes, check out a great blog from Holly Elmore of Elemental Impact highlighting achievements in Atlanta: http://zerowastezone.blogspot.com/2014/06/atlanta-shines-as-zero-waste-conference.html

… And Pass It On!

Quote from Gary Liss, VP of USZWBC: “If you are not for Zero Waste, how much waste are you for?”

Scott Lutocka of Piazza Produce receiving the Gold Zero Waste Certification plaque from USZWBC President Sue Beets. Photo courtesy of Holly Elmore, Elemental Impact

Scott Lutocka of Piazza Produce receiving the Gold Zero Waste Certification plaque from USZWBC President Sue Beets.
Photo courtesy of Holly Elmore, Elemental Impact




One Response to “Getting to Ground Level “Zero” Waste with USZWBC”

  1. Greetings KB Kleckner!

    Thanks for recognizing the works of the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council and your quest for a truer definition of Zero Waste! Our organization began our journey towards Zero Waste even before we realized that it was achievable due to our ever-increasing waste hauling expenses. We discovered the “Ca$h in our Tra$h”! What was once an expense to the company’s bottom line is now a profit center. What better reason to challenge the Status Quo? CEO’s and CFO’s need to also change their old ways of doing business as they might also find that having good sustainability practices may lead to new customers as well as retaining existing customers. Zero Waste is a No-Brainer! And may your Zero Waste Journey and advocacy continue!

    Sustainable regards,

    Scott D Lutocka
    Facilities Manager & Zero Waste Warrior
    Piazza Produce, Inc.
    Indianapolis, IN

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