sustainability, waste audit

Waste Audits: What Are They and Do We Need One?

Have you ever thrown something into the trash at work and wondered if there was a better way? Do you see the piles of trash that your workplace is producing and want to reduce it, but aren’t sure how? One way to figure out your best path forward is by completing a waste audit, which is a methodical way to determine your output and identify areas for improvement. A successful waste audit will measure the quantity of waste as well as its composition.

Here are our tips to help you on your journey to zero-waste:

  • Plan your team and your timeframe. Let relevant parties in your company know of your intentions and ask them for help with execution of the project. Custodial teams, sustainability professionals, and your waste collection people should be alerted. As for timeframe, we suggest conducting the audit Tuesday through Thursday for the best representation of typical office waste production.
  • Start collecting your waste and label it. Identify all of the places around the office where waste is disposed and create a label for each area. As you bag up each day’s collection, put the corresponding label on it so that you know the location and date it was collected. Make sure you have a safe place to store the bags until the day of the audit.
  • Dig in and start sorting! Use gloves and protective gear and begin going through the contents of each bin. Weigh the contents for each category and take note of any cross-contaminants in the bags (i.e. organic materials in the recycling bin). Mark down the total weight for each category on a spreadsheet or notebook.
  • Determine how you measure up. Now that you have calculated and recorded the totals for all of your waste sources and categories, it’s time to do some math. Determine the total average weight for each of your categories and then divide those totals by three (if you chose a three-day audit). You can then take that total and multiply it by the average number of days you are open a year and this will give you an idea of how much waste you generate both weekly and yearly.
  • You did it! You now have an overview of the types of waste you are generating, how much you are generating on average and items that are often disposed of improperly. Now do something with it! 


Here are the resources that Tech Networks uses for their sustainable waste program: 

  • Upcycling and recycling of just about anything: TerraCycle
  • Organic waste, compostable items, and corrugated cardboard: Bootstrap Compost
    • Mention us when you set up service, we love them!
  • General recycling and electronic waste: Save That Stuff
  • Random household items from employees (keyboards, vacuums, hair dryers): Best Buy

To learn how to complete your own audit, view our full Waste Audit Guide here: 

 Waste Audit Guide




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