The Big Picture

WGP Credit: Measuring and Calculating Source Reduction and Reuse/Rescue Impacts 

(1-2 Points, Reciprocal)

Credit Summary

This credit aims to create a standard for measuring the creation of municipal solid waste at a local or industrial level. This is enacted through requirements for calculations of both reuse and rescue and source reduction. 

Impact Summary

Calculations of source reduction and rescue and the environmentalist practices they describe are so important for a variety of reasons. We need these metrics to visualize our progress towards true sustainability, and the impacts they calculate are of utmost importance.

Submittal Summary 

Industries and municipalities may receive points for this credit via actions like municipal recycling and composting programs or food rescue programs.

Case Studies and Benefits

Source reduction and rescue are vital to limiting the creation of solid waste, and we can see the validity of this claim through the vast list of cities, such as Boulder, CO, which are taking steps to mitigate this waste generation. 

For more information, visit the Required Documentation, Definitions, and Referenced Standards.

Intent and Requirements

To consistently measure and/or calculate the generation and characterization of municipal solid waste within the Local Government’s jurisdiction or Company’s service area, including as appropriate, C&D waste, represents an important foundation for societal transformation of traditional solid waste management into effective sustainable materials management.

Local Government & Industry Requirements

Calculating Source Reduction Potential (1 point)

  • Based on calculated or measured waste generation and characterization, calculate the Source Reduction potential for the Local Government.
  • Utilize the source reduction potential calculation methodology outlined in the US EPA’s Source Reduction Program Potential Manual.

Calculating Reuse & Rescue (1 point)

  • Estimate, calculate or measure waste diverted from disposal through Reuse and Rescue programs operating within the Local Government’s jurisdiction or Company’s service area.
  • Utilize the SWEEP reuse and rescue calculation methodology outlined in the Certification Manual.

Why We Care

Generating metrics to analyze progress towards effective sustainable materials management is truly vital. These metrics serve a dual purpose of both measuring success and holding industries and municipalities accountable for their sustainable practices or lack thereof. 

Many efforts to transform waste management and utilize green practices are riddled with greenwashing and falsified claims. Both municipalities and industry are guilty of exploiting environmentalist facades to bolster their public image. Therefore, to maintain a standard of waste reduction and enforce authenticity in this sphere, calculations and numerical evidence are extremely important. Furthermore, having these numbers allows us to quantify the impact of sustainable practices. This sets precedent for judging what methods are most effective in reducing solid waste production and which are not. According to the EPA, “63 million tons of wasted food were generated in the commercial, institutional, and residential sectors” in just 2018 alone (EPA). Numbers like these should make it clear that we must be moving towards stronger materials management systems.

How to Meet the Requirements

Potential Strategies:

  • Encourage certification of public and private facilities to the TRUE Standard
  • Food rescue programs/projects “Spoiler Alert” for products with limited lifetime
  • Implement and enforce local mandatory business waste prevention policy.
  • Implement educational programs on reuse and source reduction
  • Prevalence and magnitude of educational programs for residents and/or commercial/institutional organizations
    • Prevalence and magnitude of educational programs for waste management employees
  • Measuring/calculating
    • Total solid waste generated;
    • Per capita solid waste generation;
    • Residential vs. Commercial origin;
  • Procurement policies and achievements
    • EPP policy-recycling, composting, etc.
  • Municipal building recycling & composting programs
  • Buy used
  • Use remanufactured toner cartridges
  • Buy Recycled
    • Auction/resale of used goods
    • Encouraging take-back programs
  • Product labeling practices
    • Procurement guidelines regarding labeling products as compostable or other definitional label
  • Local Government Sponsored Source Reduction programs:
    • Backyard composting;
    • Material exchanges/material libraries, e.g. textiles/clothing
    • Waste audit & recommendations “right-size” programs
    • Phone book and junk mail opt out program
    • Grasscycling
    • Xeriscaping

Required Documentation



  • Worksheets demonstrating source reduction date and achievement.
  •  Worksheets demonstrating reuse/rescue achievement.


  • Source Reduction Potential = Tons of Waste by Material * Program Potential Factor
  • Volume from each reuse and rescue program. (Measure or estimate)

Case Studies & In-Depth Information

Local government 

1In November of 2020, the city of Boulder, CO received a grant of over $100,000 to support source reduction programs starting locally. This grant is being given to cities across the country that demonstrate innovative and effective approaches to source reduction of solid municipal waste. This grant in Boulder sits on the precedent of precious source reduction grants in the region (including Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas). Grant winners in this region  achieved “reductions of approximately 96 million gallons of waste use, $7.5 million in business costs, 69,000 pounds of hazardous materials and 300,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent”. These source reduction policies are effective, and calculating the impact of these efforts will only spur more environmentally conscious action.


Intel, an American technology company, takes many efforts to divert waste through waste prevention, reuse, and recycling practices. In 2017, 2018, and 2019, the company saw a 275% increase in the reuse and recovery of its manufacturing materials, after implementing sustainability initiatives. Additionally, they had goals of a 90% recycling rate for non-hazardous materials and no hazardous materials entering the landfill leading into the 2020s. They also worked closely with waste disposal suppliers to implement alternative disposal methods for some items and landfill use also decreased 50% between 2015 and 2020.  These goals were achieved by focusing on new disposal methods and less on traditional methods like incineration. Other key techniques used to accomplish these goals include using calcium fluoride waste from landfills to cement manufacturing, reselling lithography solvents, recovering semi-precious metals for recovery, and sending spent sulfur compounds for fertilizer manufacturing. 

Referenced Standards



Backyard Composting

LA Country PW Definition: Backyard composting can be performed by a variety of methods. Typically, these include placing materials in open piles, burying in pits or trenches, or enclosing in drums or compost bins (e.g., turning bins and worm bins).

C&D Waste

Relevant ReTrac definitions:

Construction, Renovation and Demolition (CR&D) Waste – Construction, renovation and demolition (CR&D) waste, also referred to as demolition, land-clearing and construction waste (DLC), refers to waste generated by construction, renovation and demolition activities. It generally includes materials such as brick, painted wood, drywall, metal, cardboard, doors, windows, wiring, etc. It excludes materials from land clearing on areas not previously developed. It excludes materials from land clearing on areas not previously developed. CR&D waste can come from residential sources such as house renovations or from non-residential sources for example the construction or demolition of office buildings.

EPA Definition– debris generated during the construction, renovation and demolition of buildings, roads, and bridges. Construction and demolition (C&D) materials are generated when new building and civil-engineering structures are built and when existing buildings and civil-engineering structures are renovated or demolished (including deconstruction activities). C&D materials often contain bulky, heavy materials such as: Concrete, Wood (from buildings), Asphalt (from roads and roofing shingles), Gypsum (the main component of drywall), Metals, Bricks, Glass, Plastics, Salvaged building components (doors, windows, and plumbing fixtures), Trees, stumps, earth, and rock from clearing sites

CORR Definition of C&D materials – Building materials from the construction, renovation or demolition of building structures (excluding land clearing, grubbing, and excavation materials).

Commercial Organizations

Any business that sells goods or services for the purpose of making a profit. 

Commercial Sector

Any for-profit, or not-for-profit retail or wholesale stores, offices, food service establishments, hospitality, utility, warehouses, and other manufacturing, industrial or processing activities, and institutions such as social, charitable, educational, health care, professional and government services. 

Company Service Area

Sample SWEEP Definition: A specific area in which solid waste companies provide services 


The process of converting organic materials into biologically stable soil amendment through intentional and active manipulation. Manipulation may include, but is not limited to, grinding, mixing, turning and adding liquid and/or bulking agents. – ReTRAC Definition

Definitional Labels (ex. compostable)

Environmentally Preferable Procurement (EPP)

TRUE Definition: “A concept that melds procurement and environmental sustainability into an environmentally conscious purchasing strategy, utilizing multifaceted environmental purchasing factors”

EPA Definition: Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Program participates in consensus standards development to provide greater market clarity and definition around the manufacture and purchase of goods and services which are environmentally preferable and then supports the uptake of those standards in federal procurement.”

Duke Finance Definition: A policy that gives preference to products that have a lesser or reduced negative effect on human health and the environment when compared to competing products that serve the same purpose. This comparison may consider raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, and disposal of the product. This term includes recyclable products, recycled products, and reusable products.

Sample SWEEP Definition: A set of purchasing guidelines that facilitates the purchase of products and materials that minimize harmful effects to the environment from their production, transportation, consumption, and disposal while performing the same function as more environmentally harmful alternatives.

Food Rescue Programs

K-12 Food Rescue Definition: Food Rescue is a program that collects uneaten, pre-packaged food items that students would normally throw away. The rescued food is then collected and donated to an organization that distributes the food to the community, such as a food pantry.


CalRecycle Definition: Grasscycling is the natural recycling of grass by leaving clippings on the lawn when mowing. 

EPA Definition: Grasscycling means leaving short grass clippings on lawns, rather than collecting and bagging them. As the clippings filter to the ground and naturally decompose, nutrients return to the soil and support further turf growth.

Institutional Organizations

A group of people with a common goal which is set up for an educational, religious, social or professional cause. 

Local Government Jurisdiction

Cambridge Dictionary Definition: the authority of a court or official organization to make decisions and judgments

Sample SWEEP Definition based on above definition: the Local Government’s authority to make decisions and judgements 

Material Exchanges/Material Libraries

CalRecycle Definition: CalRecycle’s materials exchange portal helps connect businesses, organizations, manufacturers, schools, and individuals with the most effective online resources for exchanging materials.

Procurement Policies

Overarching principles and standards used to set direction and influence decisions for purchasing a particular product, material, process or service

Source 1: 

Source 2:


EPA Definition: Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products.

Residential Sector

Law Dictionary Definition: The unoccupied or occupied, rented, owned, one or multi-family houses, mobile homes that do not include institutional housing like schools, barracks for example.

Reuse and Rescue Programs

Initiatives and/or plans that reduce the amount of waste that needs to be recycled into another product or sent to landfills. These plans reduce demand for new natural resources in production and transportation of new products. 

Reuse Education Program

A program that focuses on and/or teaches the action or practice or using an item, whether for its original purpose or to fulfill a different function. 

Source Reduction Education Program

A program that focuses on and/or teaches the action or practice of minimizing waste by strategies that include buying used products, buying products that use less packaging, buying reusable products over disposable items, maintaining and repairing products, and borrowing, renting or sharing items that are frequently used. 

Source Reduction Potential Calculation Methodology 

“Spoiler Alert”

Spoiler Alert Definition: Spoiler Alert offers a suite of software-enabled solutions that help operators of food distribution and fulfillment centers better manage unsold inventory.

Sustainable Materials Management

EPA Definition: A systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles. It represents a change in how our society thinks about the use of natural resources and environmental protection. By looking at a product’s entire life cycle, we can find new opportunities to reduce environmental impacts, conserve resources and reduce costs. 

SWEEP reuse and rescue calculation methodology (link to Certification Manual)

Take-back Programs

CE Guide Definition: A “Take Back Program” is an initiative organized by a manufacturer or retailer, to collect used products or materials from consumers and reintroduce them to the original processing and manufacturing cycle.

TRUE Standard

TRUE Definition: The TRUE Zero Waste certification program is an Assessor-based program that rates how well facilities perform in minimizing their non-hazardous, solid wastes and maximizing their efficiency in the use of resources. 

US EPA’s Source Reduction Program Potential Manual

Link here

Waste Audit

Busch Systems Definition: A waste audit is a thought-out process that is used to determine the amount and types of waste produced by a company. Completing a waste audit will provide valuable information that will benefit the company in many ways. 

Waste Diverted

CalRecycle Definition: As defined in California statute, the combined efforts of waste prevention, reuse, and recycling practices.

Waste Prevention Policy 

Overarching principles and standards used to set direction and influence decisions pertaining to using less material. Waste prevention includes source reduction and reuse as strategies. 


EPA Definition: Quality landscaping that conserves water and protects the environment 

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