New initiative to promote pursuit of zero-waste in plastics processing.

The Society of the Plastics Industry has launched the Zero Net Waste (ZNW) program, what it terms a "groundbreaking tool" for members to use to evaluate waste reduction opportunities and maximize landfill diversion. The ZNW program will provide processors with a concrete set of resources they can use to pursue, and achieve, zero net waste in their facilities and offices.

The ZNW program was born out of the SPI Recycling Committee’s Emerging Trends Subcommittee, chaired by Kathy Xuan, CEO of plastics recycler PARC Corp, Romeoville, Ill. and then developed by a broad workgroup of SPI members. "As chair of the subcommittee and a recycler who provides zero landfill services, we feel this program will be instrumental in providing tools and resources to accelerate the industry's pursuit of zero waste,” she says.

The cornerstone of the Zero Net Waste program is the manual, which includes real-world, step-by-step tools and resources for companies throughout the plastics value chain to ensure that plastic materials and other manufacturing byproducts are put to their highest and best use. From building the business case for pursuing zero net waste, to educating employees and offering practical guidance on finding the right service providers, the ZNW program manual is designed to enable companies of all sizes to take immediate steps to begin pursuing zero waste in their facilities.

Companies who participate in the program, and meet requirements of the two-step qualification and verification process will be recognized for their efforts. 

However, "the Zero Net Waste Program isn't just for companies looking for Zero Waste certification,” says Robert Flores, director of sustainability for Berry Plastics, Evansville, Ind. “The accompanying manual is applicable to a wide variety of companies and provides the basics for how get started, as well as how to enhance existing programs that a company already may have in place."

Reducing reliance on landfills provides both environmental and economic benefits, which are being driven by many of the major brand owners in the plastics industry today, notes Nina Goodrich, executive director of GreenBlue, Charlottesville, Va. “GreenBlue and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition support SPI's Zero Net Waste Program,” she said.  “Providing companies the tools and resources to demonstrate leadership in landfill diversion is an important step towards reducing carbon emissions and developing a circular economy.”  Also based in Charlottesville, the SPC is a a group of companies involved in packaging--many of which are processors--that is devoted to "a more-robust environmental vision for packaging."

The ZNW program is currently only available to SPI members.