Activist Group Adopts Principles for ‘Zero Waste’ Businesses

Activist Group Adopts Principles for ‘Zero Waste’ Businesses

The GrassRoots Recycling Network has adopted Zero Waste Business Principles to identify leading-edge businesses that have dramatically reduced their production and operating wastes.

“This is a major step forward for GRRN and the concept of Zero Waste,” notes Resa Dimino, president of GRRN’s Board of Directors. “GRRN developed and refined these Principles to guide and evaluate current and future Zero Waste policies and programs established by businesses. We are confident these principles will show companies what the environmental community expects when firms commit to achieving Zero Waste.”

GRRN is a North American network of recycling professionals and waste reduction activists “pushing public policy and corporate practice beyond recycling,” and is the leading U.S. proponent of Zero Waste as a planning framework for sustainable communities and enterprise. Zero Waste builds off of the success of recycling in the U.S., advocating a “whole-systems” approach to resource conservation, materials efficiency, and corporate accountability.

“These Zero Waste Business Principles were adopted to set a high bar for evaluating how committed businesses are to waste reduction, resource efficiency and producer responsibility,” says David Wood, GRRN executive director. “These principles establish specific criteria by which workers, investors, customers, suppliers, policymakers and the public in general can assess the resource efficiency of companies.”

The initial round of Zero Waste Businesses, documented on GRRN’s Web site, show that “Zero Waste is no longer just an idealistic vision, but rather a practical goal and comprehensive planning framework,” says Gary Liss, GRRN’s Zero Waste Business Advisor. “When we highlight that businesses are leading the way, and that many businesses have diverted more than 90% of their wastes from landfill, this demonstrates that Zero Waste, or darn close, is possible.”
The Zero Waste Business Principles establish an initial threshold of evaluation, from which companies are expected to move beyond. In brief, the specific Principles are:

  • Commitment to the triple bottom line - meeting social, environmental and economic standards

  • Use Precautionary Principle - prevent harm by demonstrating safety before the fact rather than after

  • Zero Waste to landfill or incineration - less than ten percent of waste is landfilled and none is incinerated

  • Responsibility: Takeback products & packaging - company and suppliers are financially or physically responsible for all goods

  • Buy reused, recycled & composted products - use recycled content in every aspect of operation: production, offices, and construction

  • Prevent pollution and reduce waste - revise policies and systems to conserve natural resources

  • Highest and best use - recover the highest value of energy and materials from discarded products and packaging

  • Use economic incentives - encourage customers, workers and suppliers to eliminate waste by offering financial benefits

  • Products or services sold are not wasteful or toxic - eliminate harmful goods and regularly evaluate performance

  • Use non-toxic production, reuse and recycling processes - eliminate the use of materials hazardous to people and the environment

    GRRN says it will utilize these principles in a variety of ways, such as highlighting the range and types of zero-waste leadership by businesses, distinguishing overall leaders (“Zero Heroes”) from companies that are good on some policies but still need to work on other aspects of their business. GRRN will continue to collaborate with sustainable business and social responsibility organizations and associations to promote these Principles and highlight leadership in key activities required to achieve Zero Waste.

    GRRN is seeking comments on the principles. Send them to Gary Liss at [email protected], or call 916-652-7850.