Skip to main content

The on-going history of US Zero Waste Business Council

The U. S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) has seen a lot of changes through time and especially the past year where it has become an integrated part of a more international group of programs administered by the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) under the newly branded name TRUE Zero Waste.
To help build some perspective on this change I've detailed some of the basic history of the USZWBC and have included my personal involvement too.
  • Since the late 1990s, Grass Roots Recycling Network (GRRN) has organized conferences and educational resources to highlight examples of Zero Waste businesses. 
  • GRRN developed Zero Waste Business Principles that were subsequently adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance, or  ZWIA and its affiliates, worldwide.
  • Since 2005, Earth Research Foundation (ERF) organized the only conferences in the U.S. that focused solely on Zero Waste businesses. ERF researched model certification programs and business models to evaluate how best to develop a third party certification system for Zero Waste businesses in the U.S.
  • USZWBC began in October 2011 and received approval as a California Public Benefit Corporation in January of 2012. 
  • In 2011, ZWIA organized a Certification Committee to evaluate how to develop certification programs for Zero Waste Communities, Businesses, Facilities, Events, Service Providers, Training Programs and Professionals. 
  • In February 2012, ZWIA adopted a Zero Waste Business Recognition Program to establish international standards for recognizing those businesses that divert 90% of their discarded materials from landfills and incinerators. 
  • In February 2012, GRRN was approved as the National Affiliate for the ZWIA Zero Waste Business Recognition Program in the U.S. 
  • The USZWBC adopted this program and began to certify companies that met the Zero Waste Business Principles and could demonstrate that their facility was diverting more than 90% of their waste stream.
  • On a personal note, in September 2013 I began to work with Zero Waste Canada, helping to file the founding documents, became the Executive Director, and managed the Zero Waste Business Certification in Canada. I also became a member of the ZWIA Certification Committee and eventually a Board Member of ZWIA.
  • In July 2016 the USGBC issued a LEED Interpretation allowing documentation for a facility certified by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) to stand in for several LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED O+M) prerequisites and credits. 
  • In October 2016 the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) and the U. S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) announced they have joined forces to advance zero waste business practices by integrating the USZWBC into the global GBCI community that drives sustainability across all sectors. GBCI assumed responsibility for the ongoing management and evolution of the Zero Waste Facility Certification and Zero Waste Business Associate programs created by USZWBC, and the zero waste principles will be aligned with GBCI’s offerings.
  • In September 2017 the GBCI announced the launch of the TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) Zero Waste Certification program.
And this is where things stand today, the TRUE Zero Waste Facility Certification is managed by the GBCI and oversees the program internationally. 

The GBCI has adopted other programs in the past and have rebranded them and administered them too. The suite of programs include the LEEDWell, Sites, PEER, Edge, GRESB and the ParkSmart standards. These programs all follow the same certification and credential cycles and standards that the USZWBC uses, so not much is expected to change in this regard.