Most people do not think of waste other than separating recycled items from their garbage. Performing a waste audit and interpreting the results can uncover a profile of your waste. We can determine wasteful practices and possibly save money and alter your purchasing and waste behaviors.
What is a waste audit?
A waste audit is an analysis of the waste stream from your facility. It can identify what types of waste are generated and how much waste is gathered. A waste auditor goes through bags of garbage and sorts the items. They then record and analyze the data. This will identify what is being thrown away, recycled, or diverted through other means and the amounts of each type by weight or volume.
A waste audit spotlights inefficient waste practices and can improve sustainability. Change and improvement occur through the execution of good quality recycling programs and an understanding of your home, school, or business’s waste stream.
How do you conduct a waste audit?
- Plan a date for the audit and gather your team to perform it. CleanRiver suggests:
- Make sure you include your custodial team in the planning process. They can advise you of anything you need to be aware of regarding your waste collection program and identify areas for improvement.
- Select a week when no special events are occurring at your facility and ask the custodial team to collect all waste over three days and place it in a secure container.
- Waste should be collected on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Don’t include Mondays and Fridays as there is typically a higher incidence of absences on those days
- Provide labels for the custodial team to label each bag with the date, location, and stream.
- Make sure you have all the necessary tools and equipment. These include:
- A scale to weigh the garbage.
- Clear garbage bags for use in all the waste and recycling bins
- Labels to identify the date, location, and stream for each bag
- Permanent markers for the custodial team to mark the labels
- Protective clothing for the waste audit team, including overalls, gloves, eye protectors, and safety shoes (if required)
- Measurement chart to track the findings
- Printed checklist or tablet/laptop to record the data
- Now, you need to go through the garbage. Weigh the bags and do a visual assessment of the contents. Determine the percentage of contamination.
- Calculate your diversion rate. A diversion rate is an easy way to measure how your organization’s recycling program is doing. Here’s the simple formula:
The recycling weight includes any organic waste collected for compost and any recyclable waste diverted from landfills.
- Communicate your results. Tell everyone in the organization the results of the audit. Highlight any areas for improvement by posting images of key contaminants by the bins, so it’s top of mind for everyone. Sharing the waste audit results also allows you to reinforce your recycling goals and make everyone aware of the bin locations and what’s recyclable in your facility.
What can be learned from a waste audit?
A waste audit can uncover more than what you throw away. It can highlight waste, failure to recycle, and spotlight areas where waste is preventable.
- Are you finding significant waste of a particular product? Is it because the product is inferior and discards high because it doesn’t work well?
- Where or what department is the most waste created? Can you purchase reusable products in place of overly discarded products?
- A waste audit can uncover opportunities for savings on your waste invoices and contracts.
Can a waste audit save money?
Simple answer? Yes. It can save money by determining what you waste, how you can improve on waste and recycling, and even so much as the products you discard and can you purchase better and cost-efficiently for those products.
Who should do a waste audit?
While a waste audit can be a DIY project, it is best to use a qualified expert to perform the audit. Our team at Exquisite Property Services is trained in performing waste audits.
We will conduct an audit at your facility and provide a consultation to review the results. We provide you with recommendations and best practices that can be put in place to reduce the amount of waste you generate and save money. All waste audits are free. Customers that have waste audits conducted receive a 10% discount on all recycling and trash pickup services (bulk trash not included). Contact us for more information.