Inspiring Communities to Embrace and Achieve Zero Waste

Class Descriptions

ZWUSA offers a suite of classes – some of which are now available as Zoom webinars.

Introductory Classes: Zero Waste Curious, Introduction to Zero Waste, Resource Recovery Parks And Zero Waste, and Introduction to Recycling – which we currently teach for the Northern California Recycling Association.

Advanced: Zero Waste Principles and Tools and Zero Waste Planning. (Prerequisites required.)

Class 1: Introduction to Zero Waste (IZW)

Interested in learning how Zero Waste has become a key component of community and business sustainability efforts across the US and the globe? Want to know more about the connection between Zero Waste and climate change, social justice and green jobs as well as the benefits to businesses pursuing Zero Waste? Curious about Zero Waste planning and infrastructure as well as community and business certification? This lively interactive class is for you! Prerequisite: None. Recommended Reading: Available on registration.

Class 2: Zero Waste Principles and Tools (ZWPT)

Ready to go deeper into Zero Waste? Curious about how a municipality can determine where they are and where they need to go on the road to high diversion and Zero Waste? This class introduces the Zero Waste International Alliance Zero Waste Declaration, and Ten Global Principles for Zero Waste Communities. Building on that foundation, we will discuss Zero Waste USA’s Eight Steps to Becoming a Zero Waste Community and explore five key assessment tools including USEPA’s Managing and Transforming Waste Streams: A Tool for Communities and its 100+ searchable policy and program options.

Prerequisite: Zero Waste USA’s Introduction to Zero Waste class. In lieu of taking the Introduction class, students with proven grasp of the subject must pass a ten question multiple-choice quiz. Appropriate for businesses, practitioners and advocates. Prepwork: Approximately 4 hours of readings plus project prep work. Start here; remainder available on registration.

Class 3: Zero Waste Planning

In depth examination of Zero Waste planning explored through exercises prepared in advance by students. In this Zoom webinar, each group presents their Zero Waste Action projects – utilizing all of the material and tools from Classes 1 and 2, to the Zero Waste USA team and their fellow students for critique and suggestions. Prerequisite: Zero Waste Community Principles and Tools – attendance and exam, and approximately 12 hours of readings and study assignments plus a group project, that if-need-be could be accomplished alone.


A. Zero Waste Curious (ZWC)

Our introductory presentation – Zero Waste Curious, can be held as a special event, or given at regularly scheduled staff or volunteer meeting or even as part of larger program. It can run from 30 minutes to 4 hours depending on the needs of the host organization. Each presentation starts with an entertaining introduction to Zero Waste, then the focus shifts to your community and household. Participants leave with a much better understanding of the meaning and benefits of Zero Waste, what is happening locally and how to embrace Zero Waste personally and as part of a group.

B. Resource Recovery Parks And Zero Waste

A class on the physical infrastructure and social infrastructure of Zero Waste with a special focus on resource recovery parks.
The resource recovery park concept has been evolving naturally at landfills and transfer stations across the country. These facilities provide reuse and recycling opportunities for all 12 market categories of materials and co-location of reuse, recycling, compost processing, manufacturing, and retail businesses in a central facility.

The individual functions of a resource recovery park can also be decentralized and located throughout a community. This is referred to as a “serial MRF.” We will profile example resource recovery parks and serial MRFs and identify opportunities for local development. Using our host jurisdiction as an example, we will evaluate the existing physical infrastructure and social infrastructure for Zero Waste and identify the local service voids. We will then discuss opportunities for moving forward to pursue high diversion and Zero Waste. Prerequisite: None. Recommended Reading: Available on registration.

C. Introduction To Recycling (ITR)

A quintessential exploration of the history of the recycling and Zero Waste movement, ITR offers both newcomers and seasoned professionals a critical overview of current concepts, practices and terminology.

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This course demonstrates how Zero Waste can be a key part of community and business sustainability plans and help contribute to reducing greenhouse gases and global cooling. Participants learn the connection between Zero Waste and social justice, jobs potential from Zero Waste and benefits to businesses pursuing Zero Waste.