Cost-saving strategies through TRUE's "Recycle" credits

Published on: 
14 Apr 2021
Susie Westrup

Continuing with the cost-savings strategies in TRUE, the next topic of our series is our fourth credit category in the TRUE rating system – Recycle. You can find the rest of the articles in this cost-saving series on our website under the article section!

The goal of TRUE certification is to divert all solid waste from landfills, incineration (WTE), and the environment. There are many economic advantages embedded in the strategies of the TRUE rating system that help businesses cut costs and generate revenue. 

One of the benefits of TRUE certification is the expedited return on investment (ROI). Compared to major investments into sustainability infrastructure, zero waste initiatives have remarkably low payback periods. Here are some of the top cost-saving or revenue-generating strategies within the recycle credits of the rating system which illustrate the potential ROI for facilities pursuing TRUE.


Recycling is the series of activities by which discarded materials are collected, sorted, processed, converted into manufacturing feedstock material and used in creation of new products that can provide a new source of revenue.

Credit 1: Meet highest and best use for 80% of materials by weight

Credit 1.2: Meet highest and best use for 100% of materials by weight

According to the Zero Waste Hierarchy, the “highest and best use” for waste materials is when the highest amount of a material is recycled to become that same material again (instead of being downcycled). The “highest and best use” is a goal to help guide waste conservation programs and policies.

The highest and best use of a material typically requires source separation. Source separation is the act of separating recyclable materials from each other by material type. Separating the recyclables by material type results in higher quality due to decreased contamination and thus more valuable materials.

  • The Delaware North project team at TRUE Platinum-certified Yellowstone General Store followed the 12 Market Categories of Waste to achieve the highest and best use philosophy for each material. Their recycling actions, coupled with waste reduction efforts, saved them $263,000 over three years in disposal costs.
  • GM underwent a full-scale transformation in their waste reporting and recycling strategy to improve operational efficiency, generating $2.5 billion in revenue between 2007 and 2010 through various recycling activities.

 Credit 2: Determine end markets for recycled commodities

This credit focuses on tracking a product for the entirety of its lifecycle, understanding where the product comes from and where it goes after it’s discarded. 

  • TRUE Gold certified Nutiva Headquarters facility recorded and reintegrated some of their waste materials, including IBC Totes, Steel Drums, Bales, Wood Pallets, and separate oils used for biofuel. They used the highest and best portion of their operational waste while also generating $26,000 in revenue by selling these materials for reuse.
  • Raytheon’s TRUE Platinum-certified BBN Cambridge has an open agreement with waste hauler E.L. Harvey to ensure recyclables remain in local markets, when possible. E.L. Harvey uses only recycling facilities within 200 miles of the site, reducing waste transportation costs and contributing to the health of local recycling markets. 

Recycling has become synonymous with the sustainability movement over the past couple of decades. Much of the material waste that companies produce can be recycled in one way or another. Recycling plans and strategies are one of the many tools that can be utilized for realizing your facility’s zero waste goals. TRUE offers a roadmap to implementing reuse strategies in the most efficient way possible. Your facility can reduce operational costs and reduce waste too by implementing these credits and beginning the process of becoming a TRUE certified project. For more information, download the rating system and our application to get started.