We at North Coast Co-op take our environmental responsibility very seriously, and we know our members do, too. Though we felt we were doing a lot to reduce our environmental impact, we decided to send members of our maintenance team to a Zero Waste Business Council (ZWBC) score card training seminar to better evaluate our efforts. Our maintenance team learned what guidelines the ZWBC uses to determine what businesses can be certified as a zero waste business. The ZWBC aspires for 100% diversion from landfills and burning, but also certifies businesses that can achieve a 90% diversion rate at their lowest certification level.
Our team determined that we are already doing approximately 87% waste stream reduction through various partnerships and in-house programs. We divert all of our produce waste and spoilage either through donation to Food for People, or to local farmers for animal feed. We divert all of our compostable material to The Local Worm Guy. We have an in-house single stream recycling program staffed by our maintenance team, and we reuse all of our pallets through various vendor partnerships. Many of our local vendors deliver to us in reusable containers which we then return to them upon their next delivery, further reducing our local waste stream.
We are currently looking at the pros and cons to getting certified as a zero waste business. The certification costs vary depending on the size of the business and could cost us a few thousand dollars per year as you have to get recertified each year. If we do move forward with certification, we will get some minimal national advertisement from doing so. We would also be supporting the Zero Waste Movement, and help it gain momentum. We would appreciate any members’ input; please feel free to put your opinion in our comment boxes at either of our locations! Either way, we endeavor to achieve 100% waste diversion and need your help to achieve it.
Our team has come up with new inventive ways to further reduce our waste stream since attending the training. They are also looking to create new local partnerships to help reduce our local waste stream. Our team has learned of opportunities to turn our waste into local dollars that would come into our community from various localities that have the infrastructure to make “waste” a commodity. As we move forward into the future, we move with purpose. As the Zero Waste Business Council says, “If you aren’t for zero waste how much waste are you for?”