Zero Waste Facility Certification
Certify your facilities’ waste diversion achievements to help strengthen your corporate message, investment profile, and ESG ratings
What is Zero Waste Facility Certification?
Companies looking to lower their environmental impact and carbon footprint are turning to sustainability initiatives such as Zero Waste to significantly improve their environmental stewardship, corporate responsibility profile, and ESG rankings. To help you communicate how you reduce, recycle and re-use your waste, the SCS Zero Waste Standard provides a basis for certification for waste diversion and reduction at your individual facilities.
Certification can be used to communicate your company’s journey towards eliminating landfill-bound waste generation at your facilities. The annual zero waste assessment captures the amount of waste diverted from landfill as a percentage of total waste generated. Under the SCS Zero Waste standard, all participating facilities will be evaluated, and a sample will be audited onsite. Facilities demonstrating at least 50% waste diversion can be recognized under this SCS standard. All claims are based on a twelve-month period.
Why Choose SCS?
SCS certifies the diversion achieved at each participating facility starting at 50% diversion. The SCS Zero Waste standard takes a facility-by-facility approach and conducts on site audits for a sample of facilities in scope, which reduces the cost of certification while maintaining the integrity of the facility-level certification through document review. The standard also allows for a diversion of hazardous waste to count towards overall diversion, as well as allowing for the use of waste-to-energy as a diversion method for more than 25% of total diversion, on a case-by-case basis.
Ready to Get Certified?
- Certificates of Waste Diversion
- Program Documents
Q: What is the purpose of Zero Waste?
A: Zero Waste is a corporate/business/lifestyle philosophy which seeks to reduce the amount of waste generated by businesses, governments, and individuals through reuse of existing materials, proper stewardship of materials designated as wastes, and by preventing materials from entering the waste stream in the first place.
Q: How does Zero Waste certification benefit my company?
A: SCS Zero Waste certification provides 3rd party assurance of waste diversion achieved at a facility over a 12-month period. This certified diversion rate can be used to communicate a company’s journey towards eliminating landfill-bound waste generation at its facilities. The annual assessment captures the amount of waste diverted from landfill as a percentage of total waste generated.
Q: How is the SCS Zero Waste certification program different from others, such as GBCI TRUE certification or NSF Landfill Free certification?
A: There are several key factors that distinguish the SCS Zero Waste certification program from other waste certification and verification programs:
- Cost savings: The Standard defaults to remote auditing; on-site audits are only required if triggered by the risk assessment set in the Standard (determined by availability of third-party supporting documentation).
- Verification of diversion percentages: While we keep the definition of Zero Waste as 99% diversion, facilities only have to show 50% diversion to participate in the SCS certification. Other standards do not allow for “participation” without achieving at least 90% diversion.
- Hazardous Waste: Our standard accepts diversion of hazardous waste to count towards diversion, on a case by case basis (following analysis)
- Waste to Energy: Our standard allows for the use of waste-to-energy as a diversion method for up to 25% of total diversion without further review. It allows for more than 25% of total diversion on a case-by-case basis following review.
- Residual Rate Allowance: Our standard allows for the default industry/regional residual rates to be applied when calculating diversion rates if data from haulers/third party waste collection services is not available. Other standards require affidavits.
Q: What types of facilities can be certified?
A: Any facility qualifies for certification as long as the waste management activities are all under the purview of the company applying for certification. However, facilities that share waste management with other companies must track their waste prior to comingling to be able to participate in the standard.
Q: Do my facilities have to be 99% waste free in order to be certified Zero Waste by SCS?
A: No. In fact, companies need to show that participating facilities have achieved a minimum of 50% waste diversion over a 12-month period to be considered for certification. Actual diversion per facility will be stated on the certificate each year. This enables corporations to tell the story of their zero-waste journey, year over year.
Q: Do all of my facilities have to have an in-person audit every year to be certified Zero Waste?
A: No. The Standard defaults to remote auditing; on-site audits are only required if triggered by the risk assessment set in the Standard (determined by availability of third-party supporting documentation).
Q: What does a Zero Waste certificate include?
A: The SCS Zero Waste certificate includes a transparent overview of the company’s zero waste achievements, including the following required information:
- The percent of waste diversion the company has achieved for that year. Percentage is calculated using the following formula: (diverted waste - residuals) + prevented waste) / (total waste + prevented waste)
- Each method of diversion used (e.g., recycling, composting, waste-to-energy) as well as the percentage diverted using each method
- The progress the company has made in waste diversion expressed as points; for example, if a company achieved 55% diversion last year and 60% diversion in the audited year; the certificate would show ‘+5’
- Whether Operator currently stores any waste (not the percentage or the total weight of stored material)
- Period of certification (12-month period being verified)
Q: We have multiple facilities. Is it possible to only certify a few at a time, or do we have to certify all facilities to qualify for SCS Zero Waste certification?
A: We can certify any number of facilities; only the facilities that undergo evaluation will be considered in scope for the SCS Zero Waste Certification. Every facility is certified to the diversion rate achieved at that facility.
Q: What is the diversion percentage and how is it calculated?
A: A company’s overall diversion percentage is calculated using the following formula: (diverted waste – residuals + prevented waste) / (total waste + prevented waste). In the formula, diverted waste is any material diverted from landfill using any of the following pathways: recycling, composting, re-use, reclamation, e-waste, sale, or waste-to-energy.
Q: What is “waste prevented through re-design”?
A: Waste that is no longer generated due to a new production or procurement process. For example, a company switches from single use molds to reusable molds, or from carboard packaging from suppliers to reusable containers. SCS recognizes reductions from redesign towards a company’s total diversion percentage for a 12-month period.
Q: I don’t understand all of diversion pathways that are considered by the SCS standard. Do you have a list of Zero Waste definitions?
A: Yes, below is a list of diversion pathways as well as other useful definitions for understanding the SCS Zero Waste Standard:
- Average Residual Percentages: Industry averages of residuals calculated in formal studies.2 These can be applied to a Facility under Assessment’s outgoing materials if an affidavit with a specific percentage cannot be provided by the External Vendor. See definition for Residuals.
- Composting: The process of allowing organic waste material to decay to form relatively homogeneous and stable humus-like substance that can then be added to soil as fertilizer [ISO 14021]. Composting can be either an internal or external diversion method.
- Diverted Waste: Waste that is either internally processed at a Facility under Assessment using reuse, reclamation, prevention through redesign, or that is sent to an External Vendor for recycling, composting, waste-to-energy or sale/donation (composting and waste-to-energy may also be internal diversion methods if these capabilities are available at the Facility under Assessment), resulting in avoidance of sending waste to landfill or incineration without energy recovery.
- E-Waste Recovery: The process of recovering valuable materials from consumer and business electronic equipment that is near or at the end of its useful life (such as computers, televisions, and cell phones)⁵. This process is undertaken by licensed facilities.
- External Diversion: The process of sending waste materials to be diverted from landfill outside of the Facility under Assessment. Typically, this includes recycling, composting, waste-to-energy, sale/donation, e-waste.
- External Vendor: Any entity outside of the Facility under Assessment, and independent of the Operator, where waste is sent to be further processed. A non-exhaustive list of potential External Vendors can be found under “Facility Type” below. External Vendors are used by Facilities under Assessment to achieve External Diversion. Landfills and Incinerators are also External Vendors.
- Internal Diversion: The process of diverting waste from landfills using processes available at the Facility under Assessment. Typically, this includes reuse, reclamation, prevention through redesign, but may also include composting and waste-to-energy if these methods are available onsite.
- Prevented through Redesign: A diversion method in which waste that would have occurred under a former process has since been eliminated due to redesign of the product, packaging, or process. Prevented waste from redesign can be calculated by dividing the previous year’s total weight of the (now) prevented waste by the total number of units of product created in the previous year, then multiplying this result by the number of units generated in the current year. An Operator’s process will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to ensure claims of prevented waste from redesign are accurate. Prevented waste can only be claimed for a year from the implementation of a redesign process.
- Reclamation: The process of collecting waste material that would have otherwise been landfilled, incinerated, or sent for energy recovery, and using it as a material input in a manufacturing process [based on ISO 14021]. Reclamation prevents the use of purchased or virgin materials by using materials generated onsite. Reclamation can lead to a value-added product. Example: a plywood manufacturer generates sawdust which can be collected and made into pellets. Pre-consumer waste could potentially fall under this category.
- Recycling: The process of collecting qualifying waste material and sending it to a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) to be shredded, pelletized, or chemically altered with the goal of selling this processed material to existing markets. Common materials include glass, metal, cardboard, and plastics, but other materials may apply as well. Recycling is an external diversion method; material is considered recycled under this Standard when it is sent to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).
- Reuse: The process of collecting waste material that would have otherwise been landfilled or sent for energy recovery and using it again for its initial purpose. Example: Foam, recompacted at end of process and used again. Pre-consumer waste could potentially fall under this category.
- Residuals: Waste material that remains after diversion process has taken place. Residuals percentages are specific to the type of diversion method, external vendor, as well as to the state or city (depending on available data). Operator may obtain these percentages in an affidavit from the External Vendors used for diversion. Average Residual Percentages or actual data may be used in place of affidavits.
- Sale/Donation: The process of identifying a beneficial use for a waste material and sending it directly to a (non-MRF) External Vendor for it to be input into a process or otherwise consumed.10 A sold material can only be considered a waste material, as opposed to a product, if the economic value, per unit, of the material is below 15% compared to the economic value, per unit, of the main or primary product(s).11 Economic value is the value at which the material was sold.
- Waste: Any material that a Facility under Assessment discards, intends to discard, or is required to discard, as a byproduct of its operations.
- Waste Diversion: The practice of disposing of materials defined as wastes in an environmentally beneficial manner using the following methods: recycling, composting, re-use, reclaiming, prevention, waste-to-energy (instead of sending it to the landfill).
- Waste-to-Energy (WTE): Energy recovered from material that would have been sent to landfill but instead has been collected through managed processes [based on ISO 14021]. This method includes combustion, pyrolysis, and anaerobic digestion where the main purpose and output of the process is to create energy. WTE can be either an internal or external diversion method.
- Zero Waste: 99%+ of all waste material generated or prevented at a Facility under Assessment is diverted in one 12-month period.
Q: What other environmental certifications does SCS offer?
A: Zero Waste certification is just one of many certifications a company can achieve as part of its ongoing sustainability journey. SCS offers more than 100 certification and validation programs for a wide variety of products and processes to help companies as they grow towards being more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Such measures ultimately help companies achieve better ESG ratings from the many corporate ratings companies, which in turn positions the company well from an ESG investment and institutional investor perspective. For a complete listing of all SCS certifications and validations, visit: http://www.scsglobalservices.com/services
- Cost savings: On-site audits are only required if triggered by the risk assessment set in the Standard. This eliminates the cost of auditor travel for the majority of audits.
- Participation: Other standards do not allow for certification “participation” without achieving at least 90% waste diversion. The SCS Zero Waste standard allows for facilities that have achieved at least 50% waste diversion to get their waste diversion achievements certified. This allows for more companies to participate and communicate their commitment to Zero Waste.
- Brand Strengthening: Certification provides the opportunity for companies to build upon their ESG brand equity and reputation by showcasing their commitment to diverting waste from landfills.
- Brand Messaging: Corporate benchmarking facility-by-facility allows companies to communicate their waste diversion goals as the company progresses in reducing its carbon footprint.
- Transparency: SCS certificates show how diversion rates are achieved. This helps companies clearly define and communicate their goals and achievements and avoid assertions of green washing.
- Hazardous Waste Allowance: Diversion of hazardous waste from landfill can count towards diversion, on a case by case basis (following analysis).
- Waste to Energy: The Standard allows for the use of waste-to-energy as a diversion method for up to 25% of total diversion, without further review; it allows for more than 25% of total diversion on a case-by-case basis following review.
- Residual Rates: The standard allows for default industry/regional residual rates to be applied when calculating diversion rates if data from haulers/third party waste collection service is not available. Other standards require hauler affidavits.
The steps to Zero Waste certification include the following:
Application Process and Onboarding
Company submits a Zero Waste application to SCS. SCS scopes the company to check that facilities meet the minimum requirements for participation in the standard. If yes, then a work order is sent. Once signed, next steps are discussed, and audit dates are set.
Document Review Audit
Auditor reviews management program documents, zero waste plan, waste diversion calculator, internal audit, traceability documents (supporting evidence such as invoices, bills of lading, affidavits), and evidence of trainings.
On-Site/ Virtual Verification Audit
Auditor interviews staff implementing zero waste and facility and checks waste management infrastructure. Findings are disclosed to Company.
Report Issuance and Corrective Action
Auditor submits report to SCS for technical review. Company submits action plan and evidence to close any issued non-conformities. SCS submits draft report documents to Company.
Once non-conformities are closed and technical review is complete, SCS will issue a certificate and final report thereby certifying the diversion percentage achievement of the facility.
Annual Verification Audit
A recertification audit is later planned to cover the next 12-month period.
ZERO WASTE CERTIFICATIONS
|Certified Facility||Facility Address||Operator||12-month period certified||Waste Diversion Achieved||Certificate Code with link|
|Rion – Antirion Bridge||300 20 Antirion Aetoloakarnania, ΑΡ. Γ.Ε.ΜΗ : 5661901000||Gefyra Litourgia S.A.||16 December 2020 - 15 December 2021||51.88%||SCS-ZW-0004|
|Welspun Flooring Limited||Sy. No. 190, Chandanvelli Village, Shabad Mandal, Rangareddy District, Telangana, 501503, India||Welspun Flooring Limited||January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021||100%||SCS-ZW-0003|
|Silver Mountain Packing||13773 Silver Falls Hwy SE, Sublimity, 97385, United States||AC Foods||January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021||96.07%||SCS-ZW-0002|
|Welspun Flooring Limited||Sy. No. 190, Chandanvelli Village, Shabad Mandal, Rangareddy District, Telangana, 501503, India||Welspun Flooring Limited||January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020||98%||SCS-ZW-0001|
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