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How to conduct a waste audit

August 15, 2023

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Ever wondered what a waste audit is and how to conduct one? Coastal Recycling details the steps involved.

Reducing waste and promoting sustainable practices are essential steps towards a greener future. One effective tool that individuals and businesses can utilise to achieve these goals is a waste audit.

By conducting a waste audit, you can gain valuable insights into your waste generation patterns and identify areas for improvement. Recycle More has identified a number of benefits in conducting a waste audit, from ongoing cost savings and new sources of revenue to improved business efficiency and better environmental performance.  

In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of conducting a waste audit, helping you take a proactive approach towards waste management. 

What is a waste audit?

A waste audit is a systematic process of assessing and analysing the types, quantities, and sources of waste generated within a specific environment, such as a household, business, or organisation. It involves gathering data and conducting a thorough examination of the waste stream to understand its composition, volume, and characteristics.

The main objective is to identify opportunities for waste reduction, recycling improvement, and overall waste management optimisation, allowing individuals and organisations to gain valuable insights into their waste generation patterns. By understanding their waste stream and taking proactive measures, individuals and organisations can minimise waste generation, divert materials from landfills, conserve resources, and contribute to a more sustainable future.

What are the benefits of a waste audit? 

Conducting a waste audit offers several benefits, both for individuals and organisations. Some key advantages include:

Waste Reduction: A waste audit helps identify the types and quantities of waste being generated. By understanding the composition of the waste stream, individuals and organisations can identify opportunities to reduce waste at the source. 

Recycling Optimisation: Through a waste audit, it becomes possible to assess the effectiveness of recycling programs. By analysing the composition of waste, one can identify materials that are improperly disposed of or not being captured for recycling. This insight allows for the improvement of recycling initiatives, ensuring that recyclable materials are being properly separated and diverted from landfill

Cost Savings: Waste audits can uncover inefficiencies in waste management processes that may be costing individuals or organisations unnecessary expenses. By identifying areas where waste can be reduced or recycled, waste management costs can be minimised. Additionally, optimising waste management practices may reduce waste disposal fees and potentially generate revenue through the sale of recyclable materials

Environmental Impact: Understanding the composition of waste and implementing waste reduction and recycling strategies can significantly reduce the environmental impact of waste. By diverting materials from landfills and promoting recycling, a waste audit helps conserve natural resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste disposal, and minimise the overall ecological footprint

Compliance and Reporting: For organisations, conducting a waste audit can help ensure compliance with waste management regulations and reporting requirements.

Education and Awareness: A waste audit raises awareness about waste generation patterns and encourages individuals and organisations to adopt more sustainable practices. 

How to conduct a waste audit

Smaller businesses that produce a small amount of waste are able to carry out their own audits, however, larger corporations, or audits conducted for a specific purpose, should always be carried out by professionals. 

Conducting a waste audit involves a systematic process to assess and analyse the waste generated by individuals or organisations. Here are the steps to conduct a waste audit:

Set Objectives: Define the objectives of the waste audit i.e. what specific aspects you want to assess – composition, recycling rates, waste reduction etc.

Assemble a Team: Form a team responsible for conducting the waste audit. Include representatives from different departments or areas that generate waste to ensure a comprehensive assessment.

Identify Scope and Boundaries: Define the scope of the waste audit, including the areas, buildings, or processes that will be audited. Establish clear boundaries to ensure accurate data collection.

Collect Data: Begin collecting waste data over a specific period (e.g., one week or one month). Ensure that all waste generated within the defined scope is included. Record data on the types and quantities of waste generated, as well as any relevant information (e.g., packaging materials, sources of waste).

Sort and Categorise: Sort the collected waste into different categories based on their composition (e.g., paper, plastic, glass, organic). Weigh each waste category separately to determine the proportion of each type of waste. (Take out)

Analyse and Interpret Data: Analyse the data collected to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement. Calculate waste generation rates, recycling rates, and identify any high-impact waste streams or opportunities for waste reduction.

Identify Improvement Opportunities: Based on the data analysis, identify specific actions to reduce waste, improve recycling, or optimise waste management practices. This can include source reduction, recycling program enhancements, or employee education initiatives.

Implement and Monitor: Implement the identified strategies and continuously monitor the progress of waste reduction and recycling initiatives. 

Communicate and Engage: Share the findings of the waste audit with relevant stakeholders. Raise awareness about waste reduction and recycling efforts, and engage employees, customers, or community members to participate in sustainable practices.

Regularly Review and Repeat: Conduct periodic waste audits to monitor progress, evaluate the effectiveness of implemented strategies, and identify new areas for improvement. Regular reviews ensure that waste management practices remain aligned with sustainability goals.

Get a free waste and recycling review from Coastal Recycling

With our strong commitment to sustainability, Coastal Recycling aim to maximise recycling rates, help you manage your waste responsibly and reduce your waste costs. If you’re a commercial business, we can provide you with a free waste review. Get in touch with us today.

Ever wondered what a waste audit is and how to conduct one? Coastal Recycling details the steps.