As a waste management company, we understand the importance of reducing waste and minimising our environmental impact. Conducting a waste audit is an essential step towards achieving this goal, as it allows us to identify the types and amounts of waste we generate and develop strategies to reduce, reuse, and recycle them.
For our customers, conducting a waste audit can help your business save money on waste disposal fees, reduce its environmental impact, and improve its reputation with customers who are increasingly conscious of sustainability issues. It also demonstrates your commitment to sustainability and can attract customers and employees who share those values. If you are working towards achieving certification to demonstrate the sustainability of your business, for example B Corp, Planet Mark, The Ethical Company Organisation, then this is something you should definitely consider.
Here is our guide on how to conduct a waste audit:
1. Determine the scope and purpose of the waste audit.
The first step in conducting a waste audit is to determine the scope and purpose of the audit. This includes identifying the areas of the facility or organisation to be audited, the types of waste to be audited, and the goals and objectives of the audit.
To determine the scope and purpose of a waste audit, there are several steps that can be taken:
- Define the boundaries of the audit: This involves identifying the specific areas of your organisation that will be audited, such as a single facility or multiple locations.
- Identify the types of waste: Determine the types of waste that will be included in the audit. For example, you may choose to audit only the office waste generated by your business or include hazardous waste.
- Determine the timeframe for the audit: Decide whether the audit will cover a single day, a week, a month, or a year. This will help you gather accurate data and measure progress over time.
- Set goals and objectives: Establish the goals and objectives of the audit, such as reducing waste generation, improving recycling rates, or reducing waste disposal costs.
- Identify key stakeholders: Determine the individuals or groups within your organisation who will be involved in the audit, such as employees, waste management contractors, or sustainability consultants.
By defining the boundaries of the audit, identifying the types of waste to be audited, determining the timeframe, setting goals and objectives, and identifying key stakeholders, you can establish the scope and purpose of the waste audit and ensure that it meets the specific needs of your business.
2. Collect and sort waste.
Once the scope and purpose of the audit have been determined, the next step is to collect and sort the waste. This involves collecting all the waste generated in the facility or organisation and sorting it into different categories such as paper, plastics, glass, metal, and organic waste.
Here are some best practices to follow for collecting and sorting waste:
- Use clear and consistent labelling: Clearly label the different waste streams such as paper, plastics, metals, glass, and organic waste. Use consistent labelling across all collection points to ensure accurate data collection.
- Use separate collection containers: Provide separate collection containers for each waste stream. This can be as simple as providing separate bins or bags for different types of waste.
- Involve employees: Train employees on how to properly sort waste and encourage them to participate in the audit process. Make sure employees understand the importance of the waste audit and their role in making it successful.
- Weigh the waste: Weigh each waste stream to determine the amount of waste generated in each category. This information is critical for setting waste reduction goals and measuring progress over time.
- Audit the waste regularly: Conduct waste audits on a regular basis to ensure that the data collected is accurate and up-to-date. This will help identify trends and areas for improvement.
3. Analyse the data.
After sorting the waste, the next step is to analyse the data. This involves looking at the types and amounts of waste generated, identifying the sources of the waste, and determining the waste diversion rate. Here are some best practices to follow for analysing data from a waste audit:
- Categorise waste by type and source: Categorise waste by type and source, such as food waste from the kitchen, paper waste from the office, or waste from the production processes. This will help identify the main sources of waste and target reduction efforts accordingly.
- Calculate waste generation rates: Calculate the waste generation rate for each waste stream by dividing the total weight of waste by the period of time covered by the audit. This information is critical for setting waste reduction goals and measuring progress over time.
- Calculate the waste diversion rate: Calculate the percentage of waste that is diverted from general waste streams through recycling, composting, or other means.
4. Identify opportunities for waste reduction.
Once the data has been analysed, the next step is to identify opportunities for waste reduction. This includes identifying areas where waste can be reduced or eliminated, such as reducing paper usage, implementing a composting program, improving production processes, rework or switching to reusable containers. It is important to prioritise these opportunities based on their potential impact and feasibility.
Here are some ways that a business can identify opportunities for waste reduction:
- Conduct a waste characterisation: Conduct a waste characterisation to determine the types and quantities of waste generated by the business. This will help identify the main sources of waste and the most significant waste streams.
- Analyse purchasing and procurement practices: Analyse the business's purchasing and procurement practices to identify opportunities for waste reduction. This may include reducing packaging waste, choosing products with minimal packaging, or switching to reusable products.
- Audit waste management practices: Audit the business's waste management practices to identify opportunities for waste reduction. This may include optimising waste collection schedules, implementing a composting program, or reducing the amount of waste sent to general waste.
- Engage employees: Engage employees in the waste audit process to identify opportunities for waste reduction. This may include conducting employee surveys, implementing a suggestion box, or creating a waste reduction team.
5. Develop a waste reduction plan.
The final step is to develop a waste reduction plan based on the opportunities identified in the previous steps. This plan should include specific actions, timelines, and responsible parties for implementing the waste reduction strategies. It should also include metrics for measuring progress towards waste reduction goals. Here are some best practices to follow when creating a waste reduction plan:
- Set specific waste reduction goals: Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals for waste reduction. These goals should be based on the findings of the waste audit and should be tailored to the specific needs and capabilities of the business.
- Assign responsibilities: Assign responsibilities for implementing waste reduction strategies to specific individuals or departments within the business. This will help ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals and that progress is being monitored.
- Implement and monitor progress: Implement the waste reduction plan and monitor progress towards waste reduction goals. Regularly review and update the plan as needed to ensure that it remains relevant and effective.
- Communicate with stakeholders: Communicate the waste reduction plan and progress towards goals to stakeholders such as employees, customers, and suppliers. This will help create a culture of sustainability within the business and demonstrate the business's commitment to reducing its environmental impact.
Conducting a waste audit is a crucial step towards achieving sustainability goals and ensuring the long-term success of your business. By following the steps outlined above, organisations can identify opportunities for waste reduction and develop a plan to achieve their waste reduction goals.
>> Download our FREE Waste Audit Template.
J&B Recycling are based in the North of England. Our commercial collection services operate from the Scottish Borders down to Hull and North Yorkshire. Our main areas for collecting and processing commercial waste include Teesside (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton), Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland, North Tyneside and Northumberland. Get in touch for more information and to request a quote.
As a waste management company, J&B Recycling are committed to helping organisations conduct waste audits and develop effective waste reduction strategies. If you need any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.