5: Collect Sort Sample Waste
The audits will run for approximately 1-3 hours, depending on the quantity of rubbish you’re going through. Get your safety gear on, and wait for your sample delivery.
You should take samples from every trash point at your office. If you have a dedicated corporate e-waste location, it must be audited. Collect your samples, and classify them into material groups using your tarp, labeled containers and team.
Every site should be evaluated independently. At the end of each location sample, snap photographs of the sorted garbage. Your waste paper recycling container for example will need 3 photographs for your report.
During sorting, each bin category must be weighed and that weight recorded. Knowing how to perform a waste audit is only step 1 – you’ll need these data amounts for subsequent analysis in step 2.
After you’ve sorted every sample and have done the clean-up – you’ll be back in a conference room calculating your averages. Convert your data into percentages, totals, opportunities and make a note of what is recyclable and what’s not.
Whether you need to search up metal paint cans, Tupperware or textbooks, our recyclepedia can tell you if it can be recycled.
How to Conduct a Waste Audit
Find a volunteer from each department to establish your trash auditing team. Aim for at least five individuals. Deirdre Fitzgerald of Badger Balm, a certified B Corp that performs audits every quarter, suggests establishing this group an ongoing “Sustainability Committee” who may monitor any adjustments you wish to make as a consequence of your audit.
Next, choose a week for the audit. You want a clear image of your typical garbage output, so select a week without any special events and when most of your workers will be at the office. If you have outside housekeeping personnel, make sure they know to hold off on emptying the garbage that week.
Why Badger Balm Does Waste Audits
“We wanted to define and assess our commitment to beneficial environmental and social practices in a transparent way. Quarterly waste audits are one of the ways that Badger tracks its success in reducing and diverting trash to landfills through composting and recycling best practices.”
Deirdre Fitzgerald | Badger Balm
Before “Waste Audit Week” rolls around, develop a list of the most typical garbage kinds your organization produces. This list may be generic for now—if the audit finds new categories, you can easily add them to the list as you go.
Common Waste Audit Categories:
Before the big event, you’ll need to stock up on a few supplies to make sure your crew can work safely.
Tools Needed for a Waste Audit:
It’s time for the actual job to begin. Here’s how you perform a waste audit.
Now that you’ve recorded all weights, you may utilize this data for a waste stream study.
1. Calculate and record your trash diversion rate using this process:
2. Look at the weights you recorded for various trash types.
Don’t lose track of this trash audit report. As you take efforts to minimize waste, these figures will become a strong marketing tool you can use to demonstrate customers how hard you’re working at greening your company.
What Is a Waste Audit?
A waste audit is a method for assessing an organization’s waste stream. The objective is to learn what sorts and amounts of trash (paper, plastic, food etc.) you create during a specified timeframe—usually a week. Auditing also monitors how much trash is recycled vs. thrown out. Businesses generally perform waste audits in order to set recycling, reduction and diversion objectives as they prepare to go green or pursue LEED Certification.
“Our analysis indicates that 77 percent of what is thrown out is actually not garbage at all. In other words, most firms are undoubtedly paying too much for garbage disposal, and losing a lot of useful recyclables every day. But they do not recognize it since they have not conducted a rigorous waste audit to assess their waste streams.”
A Simple Waste Auditing Checklist for Any Business
Taking out the garbage isn’t just a chore. It might be costing your firm money—not to mention your customers’ loyalty. Today’s consumers want to support firms with eco-friendly operations. And the more you toss out, the more you’re spending on garbage collection and new supplies.
Before you can decrease waste at your business, you need data to build the smartest plan of attack. If you don’t have the information on-hand, it’s time to perform a waste audit. We put recommendations from sustainability consultants Great Forest and Badger Balm, a personal care firm that conducts quarterly audits, into a simple checklist to help your business get started.
Next Steps After Waste Auditing
So, you’ve done your audit and finished your waste stream analysis. Now what?
Determine if your dumpster size and pickup frequency still suits your needs. If your garbage output changed, a new size or number of collections may be more cost-effective.
Hire a recycling service if you don’t already have one. If you’re just recycling a few items, consider recycling more—either via your existing service or one that specializes in trash from your business.
Set a target for boosting your recycling rate.
Create recycling rules for reaching that target and communicate them with your team.
Set a target for minimizing the quantity of waste in your major categories.
Determine the actions to accomplish that goal and let your personnel know. For example, you may convert to online bill pay to minimize paper. Or get a new coffee machine to prevent wasted coffee pods.
Identify any objects you can reuse. For example, can you repair or recycle old devices instead of acquiring new ones? Can you reuse any of your packing materials?
Decide on a timetable for reaching your recycling and reduction targets. One or two years typically makes sense. Plan to do another waste audit at that time to assess if you reached your targets.
According to Fitzgerald, Badger Balm was able to cut their waste output by 77 percent by adopting improvements like:
Switching from paper to linen napkins in their eating area.
Replacing paper towels with energy-efficient electric hand dryers in restrooms.
Using product labels with a recyclable backing whenever practical.
“At Badger, our mission is to achieve zero waste, therefore we establish annual goals based on our progress. We also interact with other B Corps to understand their approach to waste reduction.”
Deirdre Fitzgerald | Badger Balm
Using this technique, a waste audit will show you where to focus your efforts as you strive toward a greener corporate culture. You may even realize that you’re saving money as you uncover new methods to decrease waste. Planning to perform a waste management assessment at your business? Share your results below.
Check out our Sustainability section for advice on recycling more and consuming less.
Should You DIY or Hire a Service?
Businesses who create a very modest quantity of garbage (offices, boutique stores etc.) or who merely want some baseline data typically perform their audit themselves. “DIY audits are ideal for small educational events to highlight the sorts of trash generated,” says Ross Guberman of waste auditing business Great Forest.
But according to Guberman, “Waste audits undertaken for a specific reason should always be done by qualified specialists such as Great Forest. We know what to watch out for, and more crucially, how to evaluate the data properly.” Guberman advises employing a service for projects like:
If you’ve opted to conduct it yourself, stay reading for our step-by-step waste audit checklist. Even if you’re employing a service, take a look to understand how your audit will operate.