Are you eligible for TRUE certification?

Published on: 
2 Nov 2017
Emily DeCremer

You’ve had success cutting waste and growing your triple bottom line, but can you add TRUE Zero Waste certification to your list of accomplishments? Understanding the scope of the certification and meeting the minimum program requirements is key to taking the next step. Find out if your facility is eligible to be recognized for zero waste excellence with TRUE by reading the requirements below.

Minimum program requirements

A TRUE project's goal is to divert all solid, nonhazardous waste from the landfill, incineration (waste-to-energy) and the environment. Facilities achieve certification by attaining at least 31 out of 81 credit points in the TRUE Zero Waste Rating System and meeting seven minimum program requirements:

  • Company or project seeking certification has a zero waste policy in place.
  • Project has achieved an average 90 percent or greater overall diversion from landfill, incineration (waste-to-energy) and the environment for solid, nonhazardous wastes for the most recent 12 months. Diverted materials are reduced, reused, recycled, composted and/or recovered for productive use in nature or the economy.
  • Project meets all federal, state/provincial and local solid waste and recycling laws and regulations. Project complies with all air, water and land discharge permits required for collection, handling or processing of materials.
  • Project has data documenting a base year of waste diversion and measurements since the base year that adjust for changes in size, type and nature of business.
  • Project submits 12 months of waste diversion data to GBCI annually to keep the certification current.
  • Project does not exceed a 10 percent contamination level for any materials that leave the site.
  • Company submits a case study of zero waste initiatives to be published on this website.

It is also important to understand the "who, what, when and where" of the program to determine if you are eligible to pursue certification. We’ve outlined the scope of the program below to help you understand how you can be ready:


The TRUE Zero Waste Rating System applies to physical facilities and their operations. The project may include multiple buildings, be within a greater facility not seeking certification or be on campuses that do not have internal property lines. Organizations can also register and/or certify multiple projects at once. There is no maximum or minimum size for a site.

Almost any type of physical building or facility and their operations can be certified to TRUE, including (but not limited to):

  • Commercial (e.g., retail and office areas or corporate campuses)
  • Educational/institutional (e.g., public and private campuses, museums, hospitals)
  • Infrastructure
  • Government
  • Military
  • Industrial
  • Nonprofit


TRUE Zero Waste certification encompasses all solid, nonhazardous waste generated within a project’s boundaries. Hazardous materials are defined by the project’s local jurisdiction, state or country.

All those seeking certification must provide waste diversion calculations to prove compliance with the minimum 90 percent annual diversion requirement. The following activities are all considered acceptable forms of diversion and may be included in the diversion calculations: reduction, reuse, composting, recycling, anaerobic digestion and other processing technologies (not including incineration or waste-to-energy) in which the end product is recovered for productive use in nature or the economy.


The facility (or facilities) included in the project must be operational for a minimum of 12 months and have a defined baseline period for waste diversion data.


TRUE Zero Waste can be applied anywhere in the world, although some references, standards and guidelines are specific to the United States. Project teams in other countries are responsible for referencing and documenting comparable local standards.

Ready to get started?

Download and review our free Guide to TRUE Zero Waste Certification and the TRUE Zero Waste Rating System by visiting our resources page. Determine if all requirements can be achieved and which credits may be earned by current activities or by implementing new policies and practices. Then, register your project by completing the registration form and emailing it to us.

Once you’ve submitted the registration form, you will receive the necessary information and guidance to complete the registration process. When the registration process is complete, GBCI will provide access to additional certification resources and forms to complete the submission and review process.

Have questions about certification or joining as a USGBC member? Contact us today.

Register a project