Waste Audit for Businesses

What We Do During the Waste Audit

During the waste audit it’s important to keep track of where each bag was taken from within the building, as this will provide valuable data after the audit.

If your workspace is large and consists of multiple bins, we recommend we work on one location at a time, labelling each bag by stream (trash, recycling, or composting) and location (break room, kitchen, reception area, etc.). Then we:

  1. Sort through one bag at a time, sorting items into three sections; trash, recycling, or composting.
  2. Weigh each pile separately and enter the weights into a data tracking table.
  3. Calculate the gross weight of each bag based on the sum weight of the piles.
  4. Calculate the contamination weight by subtracting the weight of the material appropriate to the bin type (for example, recyclable materials in a recycling bin) from the gross weight.
  5. Repeat steps one through four with every bin in your place of work.
  6. Use these figures to calculate your current and potential diversion rates.

What to Do After the Waste Audit

Once you have your current and potential diversion rates, use these figures, as well as your first-hand knowledge of your waste audit, to make a number of core waste decisions for your workplace going forward, including:

  1. Can you eliminate or reduce any materials in your waste stream? For example, if you found a large number of Styrofoam cups in your waste, an item that typically can’t be recycled curbside, can you remove these from the kitchen and replace them with reusable coffee mugs?
  2. Are you currently using colored bin liners? If not, sometimes color coding them can aid the recycling process. Our recommendation: Use black bin liners for landfill waste, clear for recyclables, and our green biobags for compostables.
  3. Are landfill, recycling, and compost bins placed side by side? If you have a trash bin on one side [of the room] and a recycling bin on the other, everyone will just use the one closest to them. We recommend a lid and latch on the compost bin so it’s not the default option. 
  4. Do you need to install proper signage around your bins to make it clear what goes into each, and educate your employees on the importance of avoiding contamination?
  5. Do you need to sign up for additional waste and recycling services, such as a composting or food waste recycling program?

How to Track Materials

There are a number of ways to track material weights and locations during your waste audit in order to ensure that the current and potential diversion rates that you calculate from this exercise are as accurate as they can be.

Utilizing data tracking tables, as noted above, makes it relatively easy to take note of diversion rates from specific areas of your business, and then combine these figures.

Other Tools:

Phood measures which foods you are over producing before you toss it into our totes. It takes pictures with a tablet before you toss it into our tote, so it quantifies how much of each item you toss.

Spoiler Alert helps manage excess inventory.

Food For All is an app that connects excess meals in Boston to consumers to pay lower prices for them, like burritos that didn’t sell that day. Really cool and I hope this spreads.