Landfill-Free Verification

  • Overview
  • Benefits of Verification
  • Why Work With NSF?
  • Verification Process

Organizations are looking to reduce the amount of waste they generate and send to landfills for a number of reasons. Not only can they help to reduce emissions (landfills are the third largest human-generated methane source in the U.S., releasing an estimated 100.8 million metric tons of CO2 in 2015 alone1), but they can also save their organization money. NSF customer MillerCoors’ Milwaukee campus is realizing a savings of about $89,000 per year from landfill-free efforts.

We can verify an organization’s waste management processes against our consensus-developed guideline and grant recognition to companies that send less than 1 percent of waste to landfill. Consumers prefer to buy products they perceive as having a lower impact on the environment, and companies demonstrating environmental leadership and social responsibility can now have their environmental claim verified through a reputable, independent third party.

Benefits of Verification

NSF International’s landfill-free program provides a structured process to help your organization identify and quantify your waste streams and get recognition for your achievement of being landfill-free. Verification provides full transparency around your waste reduction efforts and lends the credibility of a trusted third-party certification body – all leading to greater marketplace recognition for your efforts.

Verified landfill-free companies can meet initiatives such as the United States 2030 Food Loss and Waste Reduction goal and regional, state and city waste reduction goals, as well as play their part in a circular economy.

We define the necessary steps of the verification process and the criteria for a landfill-free claim. Our experienced professionals work with you to review and evaluate your waste management processes in a constructive and collaborative manner that promotes improvement. We are here to help your organization realize the economic value that reuse, repair, remanufacturing and materials innovation can bring, as well as the money that can be saved on raw material, energy and labor costs by generating less waste.

Why Work With NSF?

As a leader in landfill-free verification, NSF’s core expertise in standards development, auditing, certification and one-on-one project management helps our customers achieve the most credible certification. The full transparency around our customers’ waste reduction efforts leads to greater marketplace and supply chain recognition, increased efficiencies and even potential cost savings.

NSF’s landfill-free program provides a structured process to help your organization identify and quantify your waste streams and, upon successful certification, get recognition for your achievement of being landfill-free. We define the necessary steps of the verification process and the criteria for a landfill-free claim. Our experienced professionals work with you to review and evaluate your waste management processes in a constructive and collaborative manner that promotes improvement. The verification provides your landfill-free claim the full credibility of the NSF name.

Verification Process

To get started on the path to being a verified landfill-free facility, it is important for your company to look at its waste stream and determine where every piece of waste is going. Once the waste stream has been analyzed, it is time to reduce waste where you can, find ways to reuse other parts of your waste stream, and recycle or compost whatever is left. After you gather all necessary documentation regarding your waste management process, your company is ready to begin the path to verification, which includes these steps:

  1. Your company contacts NSF International for a quote.
  2. We provide an application for your company to complete and, based on this, provide a quote and contract for landfill-free verification.
  3. Upon receiving acceptance of the quote and the signed contract, we assign the verification team and plan audit dates.
  4. We conduct a documentation review to evaluate the information provided and the site’s readiness for the on-site audit, help with audit planning and finalize the verification plan.
  5. We conduct the on-site audit to verify the landfill-free claim.
  6. Upon successful completion of the verification audit and satisfactory resolution of any corrective actions, your organization receives the results in writing. We issue the certificate and publish the verification on our website. The certificate is valid for one year.
  7. We perform an annual reassessment audit to verify that your organization continues to operate as a landfill-free facility.

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  • Open I have heard the term zero waste to landfill, but NSF is calling it landfill-free verification. Why?

    Zero is an absolute term. It is unlikely that zero waste to landfill can ever actually be achieved. Calling the program landfill-free and defining a negligible level of waste as acceptable (less than 1 percent) is a more realistic and achievable goal.

  • Open What are the criteria for a landfill-free claim?

    There are nine criteria to fulfill to qualify for a landfill-free claim through NSF International:

    • Demonstrate that less than 1 percent (by weight) of process waste goes to landfill
    • Have documented waste management procedures
    • Retain documentation and supporting evidence showing quantification/tracking of all waste streams
    • Maintain appropriate containers to manage waste
    • Maintain shipping records for all waste streams
    • Have a documented training program for employees and contractors and retain associated records
    • Implement a program for electronic waste management through an e-scrap recycler certified to the e-Stewards and/or R2 standards
    • Implement and document an effective inspection/audit program
    • Implement procedures for managing nonconformities and corrective and preventive actions
  • Open What is process waste?

    Process waste includes all waste generated by the organization such as manufacturing waste, incoming packaging, office paper and food wastes. It does not include packaging materials associated with the organization’s finished products or waste associated with construction and demolition activities.

  • Open Why 1 percent of process waste?

    NSF International adopted this criterion to allow for practical considerations relating to waste stream segregation/contamination and to allow for the likelihood of minor quantities of waste being sent to landfill for circumstances in which there is no practical alternative for reclamation. Based on this, a 1 percent by weight maximum for waste to landfill is considered a minor or negligible amount.

  • Open What information do waste management procedures include?

    Typically, these include information describing responsibilities and specifying methods for activities or processes relating to the:

    • Identification, proper characterization and management of all of the waste streams associated with the organization’s activities in accordance with applicable federal, state and local regulatory requirements
    • Instructions for emergency preparedness and response, as applicable
    • Management and maintenance of the containers needed for collection, reuse, recycling or disposal of wastes
    • Methods for the creation and maintenance of proper documentation and recordkeeping of waste to demonstrate that less than 1 percent of all waste streams is sent to a landfill on a continual basis
    • Management of training programs, inspection/audit programs, control of nonconformity, corrective and preventive actions and other processes
  • Open What paperwork do I need to provide to make a landfill-free claim?

    Documents such as waste management procedures and calculations used to develop the landfill-free claim are reviewed to establish a risk-based plan for verifying your claim. You will need to document:

    • The annual amount of waste generated
    • The amount of waste diverted from the landfill
    • The amount of waste anticipated to be disposed of directly or indirectly to a landfill

    You will also need to provide:

    • Copies of shipping records
    • The names of the transporter and disposal and/or recycling facility (treatment, storage or disposal facility (TSDF))
    • Applicable permits and licenses for each transporter and TSDF
    • A description of the means of recycling, recovery or waste treatment methodology
    • Copies of certifying statements from TSDFs that describe the method of recycling/reclaiming or waste treatment

    We will supply a waste tracking summary sheet for capturing this information.

  • Open Is there an on-site audit? What does it include?

    Verification does require an on-site audit. The auditor tours the facility to ensure all waste streams have been accounted for on the waste tracking document. In addition, the auditor:

    • Verifies all records for accuracy and reviews documentation from all vendors to quantify the amount of waste being diverted from landfill
    • Interviews plant personnel to determine their understanding of and responsibility for waste management processes and diversion of waste from landfill
    • Identifies practices observed, any deviations from requirements that may require correction or corrective action, and any opportunities for improvement
  • Open Why are plant employees interviewed during the on-site audit?

    A management program is most effective when all personnel involved understand their roles. When employees are interviewed and can describe the program, identify what is being recycled and where the materials go, then the training programs can be considered effective.

See all related Q&A

  • West Liberty Foods did not just want to claim we were a landfill-free company. We wanted to prove it. From day one, NSF has been a great partner. I’m proud that West Liberty Foods was one of the first companies in the United States to be verified as landfill-free.Michele Boney, West Liberty Foods
  • Having our breweries go through the NSF verification process encouraged us to look further upstream at the way that our products are being designed and consider the full life cycle of the materials we use.Kim Marotta, MillerCoors