Businesses are often seen overpaying for their waste management services. Performing an annual or a semi-annual waste audit for your business gives you significant insights about the effectiveness of your waste management system.
What is a waste management audit?
A waste management audit is a precise method of analyzing the efficiency of your organization’s waste management system. The primary goal of this waste audit is to identify the types of waste and the amount of each type produced within a timeframe.
How a waste management audit helps
By conducting a step-by-step waste management audit, you can identify areas of improvement, which eventually unlock missing revenue by increasing recycling and reducing operational costs. If you can build a culture of effective waste management, your employees will be encouraged to identify improvements and update the recycling goals on their own, creating a positive feedback loop that helps everything from your revenue to the environment.
Here is a 5-step guide to creating an effective waste audit checklist:
1. Make a category list
Before you begin to think about anything else, focus on categorizing the waste you produce. This helps in sorting the waste and analyzing it for an efficient audit report.
Here are some common categories-
- Plastic bottles
- Other plastic
- Food waste
- Materials packaging
- Aluminum cans
- Display materials
- Hazardous materials
2. Select your team, pick the days
Look for volunteers who care for environmental sustainability from any department of your organization; spread the word and let people in. Once you’ve identified a team, delegate responsibilities according to individual experience and knowledge. Waste audit volunteers must look for areas of hazard that the Health & Safety department of your organization needs to be aware of.
3. Get the equipment
After you have selected a team, it’s time to equip them. Here is a list of equipment from a waste audit example:
- Clear garbage bags and recycle bins
- Large containers to store the bags
- Labels to identify the site, date, and type of waste
- Permanent markers
- Protective gear (gloves, eye protectors, face shields, safety shoes)
- Weighing scales
- Printed checklists
4. Dig into the garbage
Sample collection should be done on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, as Mondays and Fridays tend to be high-volume days across organizations. This 3-day activity can be done multiple times in a year. On each of these days, collect garbage from pre-decided areas/locations, label them noting the location, waste type, date, and time for an easy sorting. Store the bags in secure containers.
Make sure you capture all the data of the stored waste using the printed checklists. On audit day, remove the bags from the secure container and group them together by collection location.
5. Analyze the results
Now that you have the waste sorted and stored, you can use the recorded data to analyze the waste stream.
- Calculate the waste diversion rate: A diversion rate is an easy way to measure how the waste management program is performing. Here’s the formula –
(Weight of recycling*100) / (Weight of recycled waste +Weight of garbage)
This gives you the percentage of the waste weekly being diverted from the landfill.
- Prepare a report highlighting these factors:
- Which categories have the highest waste?
- Which categories have the highest recycling?
- Are the highest recycling/waste categories different for each department?
- Were there any recyclable items mixed with the trash?
Along with these points, you may need to add a few more, depending on your organization’s requirement. However, those should be decided upon carefully. The waste management audit activity should be repeated at least 2-3 times in a calendar year; it gives you a better clarity about the changes in waste/recycling basis for different weather conditions.
Your waste management audit should eventually focus your efforts towards a greener corporate culture. After all, the planet belongs to all of us and the responsibility to save it lies with all of us too.
Author Bio: Erich Lawson is passionate about saving the environment through effective recycling techniques and modern innovations. He works with Compactor Management Company and writes on a variety of topics related to recycling, including tips and advice on how balers, compactors and shredders can be used to reduce industrial waste. He loves helping businesses understand how to lower their monthly garbage bills and increase revenue from recycling.