Our Reverse Logistics Center in Chino, California, has a saying: Sometimes it’s okay to talk trash.
This philosophy embodies the workplace culture the center has built around making sustainability a priority. They even have a “Green Team,” a group of volunteers committed to leading the facility in sustainable waste initiatives.
And last year, the building became TRUE certified for zero waste, diverting more than 99.67% of its solid waste from landfills.
TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) certification helps facilities define, pursue and achieve zero waste goals. This in turn increases their resource efficiency, cuts their carbon footprint and supports public health. TRUE is administered by Green Business Certification Inc., the same organization behind LEED certification for buildings.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” said Donna Penna, manager at the Chino facility. “It goes beyond just getting certified — it’s been a culture shift.”
The road to zero waste
The team’s zero waste journey began with a challenge back in 2019. One of Donna’s leaders approached her about pursuing TRUE certification, and she agreed to go after it. An initial evaluation showed the Chino facility diverted 66% of its waste from landfills. This was about 30% behind their goal of 90%.
Knowing they had a long way to go, Donna and other building leaders asked for volunteers to form the Green Team. That’s when Jeo Mendoza raised his hand to be its leader.
“I don’t shy away from change or a challenge,” Jeo said. “At the time I was thinking about the future and how I wanted to be part of the solution that made our work better for the environment.”
Jeo and the Green Team immediately set out to learn as much as they could about the center’s current waste practices, from the break room to cardboard disposal. During the process, they used data to create a baseline for their waste diversion efforts.
Once the team understood the situation, they were able to find ways to recycle, compost and decrease waste. For example, the team began to separate break room trash into recycle, compost and landfill.
Then, the team focused on getting support from the rest of their colleagues by hosting educational events and having one-on-one meetings to explain the importance of recycling to the planet and company.
After a year of improving waste practices, the building underwent a final evaluation and achieved a 99.67% result, earning gold status of the TRUE certification.
“All the credit goes to [everyone at the Chino center],” Jeo said. “Without their efforts, we wouldn’t have been able to do this. A team effort is what it’s going to take to do this for other buildings.”
A more sustainable future
The Chino facility might have achieved the TRUE certification, but the work doesn’t stop there. Since hitting the gold milestone, the Green Team has continued to provide education on waste. They’ve also expanded their work to manage the center’s hazardous waste, as well as volunteer for community clean up events.
Other supply chain centers in the Best Buy system have out to Jeo for help in starting their own journeys to become TRUE certified for zero waste.
“A lot of this journey is constantly learning how we can be better,” Jeo said. “I’m glad that we’re getting more people to realize why this work is important for our future.”
Learn more about Best Buy’s environmental sustainability efforts, including our pledge to become carbon neutral by 2040.