What is a waste audit? A waste audit is a process to analyze the types and amounts of waste that you produce. Without knowing what you are sending to the landfill, how can you make changes to reduce that waste? Please see below for simple instructions on how to perform a waste audit. We have even created a worksheet that will help you calculate and track your waste, making it easier than ever to identify areas that you want to improve. Have you ever wondered how much waste you produce in a year? Do you wonder how much of that waste could be composted? We’ve got charts and calculators that will make it easy for you to dive into all the details.
1. Beginning the Waste Sort
A. Assemble the waste sample to be sorted using one week’s worth of waste.
B. Organize containers for holding the sorted wastes and a scale for weighing the samples. Office wastebaskets, cardboard boxes, and five-gallon buckets all work well.
C. Weigh the empty containers that the sorted wastes will be placed into and record these weights on a label on each container.
D. Sort the waste by major component (paper, plastics, glass, metal, compostable organics, other).
E. Place the sorted materials into separate labeled containers.
A. Weigh each filled waste container and subtract the weight of the container to obtain the weight of the sample. Use the worksheet (found here) to record the findings of your waste sort by filling in the spaces highlighted in yellow under the materials tab only. You can then explore the calculations and graphs tabs at the bottom for more information.
B. You may choose to further sort a major waste component into more specific subcategories. You may want to dive into the plastics to see what the different types are and if alternatives exist to eliminate that waste. You may want to dive into the compostable organics and see if it is food scraps (peels, coffee grounds, eggshells) or wasted food that could have been consumed but has spoiled. If it is wasted food, what can you do prevent food waste in the future?
C. Alternatively, you can keep a scale by your trash can and weigh materials each time you go to the throw something away. Keep track of the material type and weight and add everything up at the end of the week.
Once you figure out what materials you are throwing away you can identify habits you want to change to produce less waste. If you perform a waste audit, or have performed one in the past, we’d love to hear about it. We’re happy to review the results with you and offer assistance on how to reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink your waste disposal. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The next two articles will identify solutions for two of the most abundant materials most people find they are sending to the landfill.