Meet the SWEEP Standard, A Path To Improved Waste Management

Meet the SWEEP Standard, A Path To Improved Waste Management

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The speedy evolution of society’s present linear waste administration methods to at least one that’s round, is essential to scale back greenhouse gasoline emissions and to scale back extraction of uncooked supplies from nature. A brand new initiative to advertise sustainable waste administration practices, SWEEP, or the Solid Waste Environmental Excellence Performance Standard, can rework the Twentieth-century garbage-centered waste system right into a sustainable and circular economy that retains supplies in fixed use.

SWEEP is designed on the ideas and success of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a requirements program that led to the widespread adoption of inexperienced constructing design. SWEEP is the benchmark for sustainable supplies practices, going past waste disposal to assist communities and corporations meticulously assess all of the elements that form the waste lifecycle. As with LEED, collaborating organizations can earn factors towards a public score by embracing new practices. The SWEEP course of introduces proactive waste prevention and environment friendly and sustainable recycling strategies, improves the well being and security of staff, delivers sturdy group engagement and knowledge, and creates sound monetary methods. Earth911 lately joined the SWEEP group.

Great ecological advantages might be realized when waste is dealt with sustainably. As The Ellen MacArthur Foundation wrote in a recent white paper:

“[T]o date, efforts to sort out the disaster have targeted on a transition to renewable power, complemented by power effectivity. Though essential… [energy efficiency] measures [alone] can solely tackle 55% of emissions. The remaining 45% comes from producing the vehicles, garments, meals, and different merchandise we use day by day. These can’t be missed. The round financial system can contribute to finishing the image of emissions discount by remodeling the way in which we make and use merchandise.”

By adopting sustainable waste administration practices and selling accountable consumption, we are able to mitigate the affect of strong waste on local weather change and work in the direction of a extra sustainable and environmentally pleasant future.

A transparent, standardized framework for discussing waste can encourage dialogue that accelerates progress. The frequent language SWEEP supplies is a instrument for sharing data amongst municipalities, waste service suppliers, and corporations working to scale back their environmental affect. Using SWEEP’s tips, organizations can be certain that their waste administration methods are environmentally sustainable and economically viable. That’s a agency basis for a future the place waste is seen not as an issue to be disposed of however as a useful resource with potential for restoration and reuse.

What is Sustainable Materials Management?

Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) is a time period coined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2009 as a coverage framework to strategy utilizing and reusing assets productively and sustainably all through their total life cycles. It challenges the linear financial system’s “take-make-use-throw away” strategy to materials consumption, as a substitute contemplating each facet of fabric use, from uncooked materials extraction to end-of-life disposal. The objective is greater than decreasing waste; it encourages organizations to reduce environmental impacts and preserve assets.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s sustainable supplies lifecycle. Source: EPA

In a SWEEP-based waste administration program, discarded merchandise might be returned to a like-new situation by means of restore and refurbishment, extending their life and decreasing the necessity for brand spanking new manufacturing. Because it emphasizes all the lifecycle of supplies, SMM aligns intently with the ideas of a round financial system. The sustainable approach ahead for our financial system should embody merchandise designed to final, be simple to restore, and recycle or compost when no extra use is feasible.

SWEEP Points Count 

Despite recycling being on the middle of the environmental canon for the final 40 years and varied strong waste commerce associations claiming to wish to standardize it, the method must be quicker.

The 90,000 native governments and particular districts that make up the United States waste administration system function nearly 1000 several types of recycling applications and methods. Materials collected must be persistently outlined. With commonplace definitions of supplies, organizing markets for recyclables is manageable. Consider what’s recyclable in your bin and evaluate it with a close-by group. Too typically, materials accepted by one group can’t be positioned in bins managed by the subsequent city. Take bottle caps, for instance; in roughly half the nation, recycling applications ask residents to depart the caps on, however proper down the highway, the principles recommend taking the caps off as a result of they use completely different processing tools.

Enter the SWEEP Standard. Founded in 2016 by Rob Watson, who beforehand developed the LEED constructing score system, SWEEP has gathered a whole lot of business professionals and specialists to work out a constant language and set of recycling guidelines. However, the actual affect of that frequent language will likely be completed by measuring and rewarding waste administration applications based mostly on their efficiency.

Click to see a bigger model of this chart.

As the administration thinker Peter Drucker wrote, “If you possibly can’t measure it, you possibly can’t enhance it.” SWEEP supplies the instruments to measure the effectivity and environmental affect of America’s recycling business. As organizations work to earn SWEEP certification, their collective progress can propel the nation’s waste administration system in a brand new route towards realizing the round financial system.

Measurement is the engine of progress. Like LEED, which gives 4 ranges of certification based mostly on factors earned by selecting sustainable constructing supplies and practices, the SWEEP Standard challenges organizations to earn credit and rating factors throughout 5 essential efficiency classes. They should doc and report their progress to earn factors, which generates extra data that may be shared to enhance business practices.

Understanding The SWEEP Certification Levels

Organizations undergo SWEEP’s verification and evaluation course of, receiving factors that correspond to a degree of SWEEP certification. The credit are designed to handle all of the impacts a waste administration operation has on the surroundings and the communities the place it does enterprise.

SWEEP introduces a dependable third-party certification course of for private and non-private strong waste administration organizations. Traditionally, recycling applications and landfills have relied on self-reported first-party and second-party business affiliation certifications. Third-party certifications present impartial, unbiased verification. The SWEEP scoring system was developed by business specialists, guaranteeing complete requirements and greatest practices that transcend minimal regulatory necessities.

To change into SWEEP Certified on the minimal degree, a neighborhood authorities or SMM service supplier should fulfill all of the conditions and earn at the least 50 of the 100 accessible factors. Following certification, recycling applications can climb the ladder towards the very best effectivity, transparency, and environmental efficiency, following a scale much like the LEED mannequin: Silver requires 60-69 factors, Gold between 70 and 79 factors, and Platinum degree certification is awarded to organizations with 80 or extra factors.

How SWEEP factors are distributed throughout key areas of strong waste administration practices.

Benefits, Costs, and Improved Outcomes

Although third-party certifications contain charges and operational adjustments, their advantages make them a worthwhile funding. For instance, organizations licensed by SWEEP can count on quick price financial savings from power effectivity enhancements, higher assortment effectivity, and decrease labor prices. Certification of a round and sustainable enterprise operation attracts younger professionals on the lookout for significant, nature-positive careers.

Municipalities that bear the certification course of can obtain 25% increased diversion charges, with decreased contamination that improves recycling yields, in addition to financial savings realized from paying much less for materials to landfills. The ancillary advantages embody retaining extra staff due to improved employee security, fewer sicknesses in the neighborhood on account of decreased carbon emissions, much less visitors on the streets, and fewer environmental impacts attributable to assortment fleets whose routes and gas financial system have been optimized.

The most necessary final result of impartial, third-party SWEEP certification is improved credibility, transparency, and accountability. Certification sends a transparent message to constituents and clients that a company is a frontrunner in sustainability. Two-thirds of residents say authorities and corporations should act sustainably, according to a 2020 Pew Research Center survey.

Driving Sweeping Change In Your Community

Citizens, as group members and as clients of waste administration companies, can drive the adoption of sustainable, round SMM practices. Urge your municipal waste administration and recycling applications to change into SWEEP licensed, and begin asking any non-public haulers you cope with to point out their dedication with transparency based mostly on common reporting about restoration charges, prices, and the place supplies in the end went – to a processor or the landfill.

Too typically, residents have been informed to take the phrase of a first- or second-party reviewer with a battle of curiosity. Ask your metropolis council and strong waste administration workplace to step as much as third-party certification, a report you they usually can belief to allow a productive dialogue about potential enchancment. Attending a public assembly might be enjoyable and makes an actual distinction when your representatives vote.

A SWEEP certification demonstrates {that a} round, closed-loop financial system is feasible in your group. Because extra materials and, consequently, extra income stays in a regional round financial system, the funding can result in new jobs, more healthy workplaces, and a extra sustainable future.