Zero Waste Pittsburgh Expands Waste Reduction Certification Program

Zero Waste Pittsburgh is introducing ZIP Certification for Businesses and Institutions, the newest addition to its successful certification program will help organizations set/achieve greater waste reduction goals and receive recognition for their efforts.
            ZIP Certification provides a means of documenting reduction in the environmental impact of waste by way of composting organics, purchasing goods with recycled content and training employees to reduce their volume of trash.
            Since 2010, ZIP certification has documented an environmental benefit equivalent to removing 51 cars from the road for one year from events engaging in ZIP Certification.  Other benefits of waste reduction can include decreased disposal costs, positive marketing and improved satisfaction among employees.
            “ZIP Certification is an easy and affordable way for organizations to get started down the path of waste reduction,” says Dave Mazza, Western Regional Director of the Pennsylvania Resources Council, which manages the ZIP Certification program.
            An organization receives ZIP Certification at the Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze level based on the number of waste reduction actions it has pursued in Collection & Diversion, Education & Communications, Purchasing and Other Notable Measures.
            Zero Waste Pittsburgh has certified five organizations under ZIP for Businesses & Institutions:
-- Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens – Platinum Certification 
-- Google @ Bakery Square – Gold Certification
-- GTECH Strategies – Gold Certification
-- Conservation Consultants, Inc. – Gold Certification
-- Michael Baker Corporation – Silver Certification
            “PRC is pleased to recognize our first round of businesses and institutions that have risen to the challenge of greater emphasis on waste reduction.  Each organization used ZIP Certification in different ways to create, enhance or publicize its waste reduction program,” says Mazza.  “We hope that more organizations in the Pittsburgh region will also step up and accrue the benefits that greater waste reduction can offer.”
            For years Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has pursued a comprehensive waste reduction program, both as a part of its daily operation and during all construction activities.  In 2011, Phipps diverted 84 percent of its total waste generated, including more than 625,000 pounds of food waste and organic material and nearly 80,000 pounds of recyclables.
            “Operating a comprehensive waste reduction program is central to our mission of educating the public on the connections between human activities and the health and beauty of the environment,” says Richard Piacentini, executive director of Phipps.  “ZIP Certification has allowed Phipps to convey our robust waste diversion program in a way that might otherwise not be well-communicated to the public.”
            Google established its waste diversion program at its Bakery Square offices to match the interests and values of its employees, and it is a reflection of Google’s corporate commitment to social and environmental responsibility.
            GTECH Strategies representatives explain that the values of waste reduction align with the organization’s mission of turning environmental liabilities into opportunities, and it used the ZIP Certification actions to apply the big concepts of waste reduction to the practicalities of a small organization.
            Located in a Gold LEED-EB rated building and having a mission “to promote responsible energy use in homes and other buildings” led Conservation Consultants Inc.’s building manager, Indigo Raffel, to understand that the ZIP certification was a great way to get “support and acknowledgement of existing waste management program” as well as “ideas on how to do even better.”
            Michael Baker Corporation was able to reduce landfill deposits at its Moon Township headquarters by 60 percent during the first few years following the implementation of a landfill avoidance program.  The corporation looked toward ZIP certification as a way to demonstrate its commitment to “creating value by delivering innovative and sustainable solutions for infrastructure and the environment.”  
            “Waste reduction is not just about recycling bottles and cans,” says Kyle Winkler, Program Manager for Zero Waste Pittsburgh. “Through Zero Waste Pittsburgh, we want to drive people to think about everything they throw away and whether there is a better use for that material than sending it to the landfill.”
            ZIP Certification is also referenced as a featured action of Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Green Workplace Challenge, a yearlong initiative that enables businesses to participate in a friendly challenge program to receive due recognition for their sustainable actions and achievements.
            For more information, visit Zero Waste Pittsburgh's ZIP Program webpage.


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