Category Archives: Zero waste

ISTC releases five new case studies

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center recently published five new case studies. They are:

Governor’s Sustainability Award Case Studies

E3 Case Study

Zero Waste Case Studies

Browse the ISTC’s complete case study collection and other publications on the website and in the ISTC community on IDEALS, the University of Illinois’ institutional repository.


How Clever Companies Are Using Circular Thinking To Get Ahead

Read the full story in Fast Company.

If you needed a clear signal that circular economy thinking has moved fully into the business mainstream from its origins in CSR, you need look no further than the annual meeting of the world’s top decision makers in Davos this past February. In advance of the gathering, the World Economic Forum announced it is launching the search to find value in “100 million tonnes of material waste, with the potential to create 100,000 jobs” center stage of its proceedings.

Early last year, we took a hard-nosed look at the concept of zero-waste thinking and argued that there were five distinct business models enabling profit making companies to harness zero-waste principles in practice. This year, after analyzing how more than 100 companies are faring when it comes to putting theory into practice, we can report that we’ve found another business model and also discovered more about what motivates companies to adapt to a circular business model.

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Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Green business, Zero waste


What carpet companies can teach us about a circular economy

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

The World Economic Forum recently released the report “Towards the Circular Economy: Accelerating the scale-up across global supply chains,” prepared in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey & Co. Looking from across the world, it seems as though the foundation, with the backing of the WEF, really could make a difference in tackling the issue of limited natural resources and creating systems to retrieve these resources. There’s no doubt that with the right players, these systems can be created.

When considering a circular economy, we should take a closer look at carpet companies, such as Shaw and Desso. Desso CEO Alexander Collot d’Escury attended Davos to support the concept. He appropriately noted that his own company has created systems to take back its carpet and reuse, sell or recycle its yarns. Other carpet companies have done the same, including Georgia-based Shaw Industries. Both companies have recognized they could save money, reduce carbon emissions and bring added value to their customers by getting back used carpet. So when the foundation and the team at Davos discuss creating a circular economy, they need look no further than these big carpet companies that already have figured it out.

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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Green business, Textiles, Zero waste


William McDonough: 6 ways to move beyond zero-waste

Read the full post at GreenBiz.

“Why make something you can’t sell?”

This is the question William McDonough posited about waste during the 2014 Executive Sustainability Forum webcast, hosted on GreenBiz and presented Jan. 30 by Waste Management.

Traditionally, businesses have strived to reduce or eliminate the waste they produce. But McDonough, influential designer, architect, entrepreneuer and co-author of “Cradle to Cradle” and “The Upcycle,” thinks this is missing the point. Zero waste is “like going nowhere,” he said. Instead, the focus should be a “cycle of endless resourcefulness.”

Waste Management — which has partnered with McDonough to push for significant environmental aims — has shown how this principle can produce results. It recently worked with a Toyota plant in San Antonio, for instance, to turn waste produced at the plant into clean-burning fuel, which was then provided to another customer. In this way, the waste wasn’t just reduced or eliminated, but actively reused.

Moving beyond zero waste requires a wholesale rethinking on what waste is and how it should be addressed. To help with the transition, McDonough provided these insights.

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Posted by on February 12, 2014 in Green business, Zero waste


Circular economy is turning the old waste sector into a resource industry

Read the full story in The Guardian.

From using non-recyclable materials as fuel to closing the loop in soft drinks packaging – the waste sector is seeing the value in reclaimed materials.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. first to be certified platinum by US Zero Waste Business Council

The U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) announced today that it’s awarding Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. with the platinum certification plaque for its achievement in successfully diverting 99.8 percent of its waste from landfill, incineration and the environment. This is the first platinum certification that the USZWBC has given and the highest level possible.

USZWBC audited the Zero Waste diversion processes at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, Calif. and found that the facility is successfully reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting at an unprecedented rate.

“Our certification program holds to the highest standards and is one of the toughest in the country, so reaching the platinum level is a great accomplishment,” said Stephanie Barger, founder and executive director of USZWBC. “We have never seen a company so efficient with their Zero Waste management, and yet they are still striving to achieve an even higher standard, which is inspiring.”

The goal of businesses participating in the Zero Waste Certification program is to divert all end-use material from landfill, incineration and the environment, while achieving a minimum of 90 percent diversion based on the standards set by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA). Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is exceeding this by 9.8 percent.

“Resource conservation is important to me and I’ve always felt it’s the right way to do business,” said Ken Grossman, owner and founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. “Everyone at Sierra Nevada participates in our Zero Waste efforts and takes pride in what we do. It is an honor to be recognized as a Platinum Zero Waste Business by the US Zero Waste Business Council. Although we have built a great Zero Waste program, we will continue to look for ways to improve.”

Though the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Chico facility has successfully achieved the highest level of certification, there is still more to be accomplished by increasing diversion, implementing upstream policies and total participation from all employees, vendors and customers. By working towards these high-level Zero Waste objectives, the business manages its resources more efficiently and economically.

“As the USZWBC certification chair, I am very proud of the work that Sierra Nevada Brewing has done over the years to achieve a platinum rating,” said Sue Beets-Atkinson, USZWBC board member. “The company has displayed great knowledge of Zero Waste, which was very exciting to see during the staff interviews. Each employee’s version of Zero Waste was very impressive.”

To date, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Chico facility has excelled in the following areas:

  • Commitment to Zero Waste by reaching 99.8 percent diversion from landfill, incineration and the environment
  • $5,398,470 avoided disposal costs, and $903,308 in revenue (2012) – both of these include spent brewers grain, which makes up the bulk of what it diverts
  • 51,414 tons diverted from landfill and incineration
  • 11,812 tons of CO2e greenhouse gases avoided
  • Reuse:
  • Shipping pallets are rebuilt locally;
    • Employees are given an insulated Klean Kanteen and a ChicoBag® on their first day to help them get into the habit of reuse
    • Single sided paper is collected and turned into notepads for employees
    • The same boxes in which bottle caps are delivered are saved and reused to ship t-shirts.
    • Given the lack of regional composting facilities, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. was the first in the US to install a HotRot composter to compost its organic waste. This system composted 261 tons of organics in 2012 that otherwise would have gone to the landfill.

These achievements were accomplished by employees and leadership from their sustainability team: Cheri Chastain and Mandi McKay.

About the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council
Launched in spring 2012 and headquartered in Corona Del Mar, Calif., the USZWBC’s mission is to educate, inform and document the performance of Zero Waste Businesses using scientific methods to help them and their communities become more healthy and sustainable. The USZWBC will be hosting its third annual National Zero Waste Business Conference on May 7 and 8 in Atlanta, Ga.

About Zero Waste
According to the Zero Waste International Alliance (, Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use. Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.

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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Certification, Food processing, Zero waste


The story of Capannori – A Zero Waste champion

Read the case study at Zero Waste Europe.

Nowhere is the phrase “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow” truer than in the small town of Capannori, Italy, where a small but determined movement to stop the construction of an incinerator led to an Italy-wide grassroots Zero Waste movement. The area has one of the highest municipal recycling rates in Europe and is an example of strong policy decisions and community participation achieving groundbreaking results.

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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in Case studies, Local initiatives, Zero waste


Job Announcement: Arizona State University: Program Manager-Zero Waste

Job Title: Program Manager-Zero Waste
Job ID: 31774 (
Location: Tempe campus
Full/Part Time: Full-Time
College/Division: University Business Services / Sustainability Practices
Posted Rate of Pay:  $44,667 – $58,068 per year; DOE

Duties and Responsibilities

Sustainability Practices seeks an experienced professional to manage the zero waste initiative at Arizona State University. The goal of the zero waste initiative is waste diversion and to reduce, reuse, recycle, recover and dispose. This person will manage the implementation of this program. This will include working collaboratively with the Recycling department to develop operational procedures; develop and implement policies and procedures; oversee the day to day operational responsibilities and student staff. Will also coordinate the external communications with the campus community and develops a communication campaign for zero waste. Works with athletics to promote the zero waste initiative at designated events. Oversees and manages staffing and operations budgets; assists in budget preparation, monitors expenses and implements approved project plans; authorizes purchases and prepares periodic and annual financial reports and budget request; represents the department and serves on various department and university committees; acts as liaison with the community, students, faculty, and staff in facilitating university programs; serves as a representative of the University at state, regional and national organizations, boards, councils and committees as assigned.

DAYS AND SCHEDULE: Monday-Friday 8:00AM-5:00PM; will include occasional evenings and weekends.

Minimum Qualifications

Bachelor’s degree in a related field and five years administrative/coordination experience; OR, Master’s degree in field appropriate to area of assignment AND three years administrative/coordination experience; OR Any equivalent combination of experience and/or education from which comparable knowledge, skills and abilities have been achieved

Desired Qualifications

Experience with: waste management, recycling, composting; waste management operations; organizing and coordinating projects/events; operations budgets and expenses; marketing/promoting sustainability; MS Office applications (i.e., Excel, Word, PowerPoint); Higher education sustainability.

Department Statement/Gen Info

The Global Institute of Sustainability conducts research, education, and problem-solving related to sustainability, with a special focus on urban environments. The Institute initiates and nurtures work on issues of sustainability across many departments on the four campuses of ASU, and collaborates with other academic institutions, governments, businesses and industries, and community groups locally, nationally, and globally.

The University Sustainability Practices Office is located in the Global Institute of Sustainability. USP develops and maintains the university-wide vision and goals for sustainability practices, including Climate Neutrality, Zero Solid/Water Waste, Active Engagement, and Principled Practice. The office serves as a guide and resource for the integration of sustainability practices in ASU’s community of over eighty-two thousand people.

This position is funded in whole or part by sources other than state appropriations and may terminate when funding is no longer available.

Background Check Statement: ASU conducts pre-employment screening for all positions which includes a criminal background check, verification of work history, academic credentials, licenses, and certifications.

Standard Statement:  Arizona State University is a new model for American higher education, an unprecedented combination of academic excellence, entrepreneurial energy and broad access. This New American University is a single, unified institution comprising four differentiated campuses positively impacting the economic, social, cultural and environmental health of the communities it serves. Its research is inspired by real world application blurring the boundaries that traditionally separate academic disciplines. ASU serves more than 70,000 students in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, the nation’s fifth largest city. ASU champions intellectual and cultural diversity, and welcomes students from all fifty states and more than one hundred nations across the globe.


ASU is a tobacco-free university. For details visit

This position is a University Staff position. All University Staff are employed at will.

Arizona State University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.

Close Date:  October 7, 2013

Instructions to Apply:  Application deadline is 11:59pm Arizona time on the day indicated.


Complete the required information and attach a single Word or PDF document, which includes:

  1. Cover letter
  2. Resume
  3. Three professional references (names, addresses and phone numbers)

Please include all employment information in month/year format (e.g., 6/88 to 8/94), job title, job duties and name of employer for each position.

Resume should clearly illustrate how prior knowledge and experience meets the Minimum and Desired qualifications of this position.

Only electronic applications are accepted for this position. If you need assistance applying for this job, please contact our customer service center at 855-278-5081.

All successful candidates must be able to provide proof they are eligible to work in the United States.

ASU does not pay candidates for travel expenses associated with interviewing, unless otherwise indicated by the department at the time of call for interview.


Zero Waste at Distribution Centers [Video]

Watch the video.

Rick Crandall, Albertson’s director of environmental stewardship for Southern California, discusses sustainability at the company’s distribution centers.

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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Green business, Video, Zero waste


Zero waste doesn’t mean zero haulers

Read the full story in Waste & Recycling News.

As more of our nation’s cities move toward zero waste policies, the traditional hauling and disposal industry is faced with the tough decision: adapt or die.

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Posted by on June 3, 2013 in Zero waste


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