Getting your waste management systems working efficiently is a continuous effort. It isn’t done in one day and neither is it something that can be ignored for far too long. Waste management costs can spiral out of control very quickly. Paying your waste haulers to pick up waste is an easy solution if you are a small business but as your business grows, the costs increase and the regulatory requirements make it necessary to find more sustainable ways to deal with your waste stream
Waste management audits are important tools that can help you learn about your business’s waste stream and where improvements can be made. A waste audit can uncover a lot of hidden secrets about your waste management which can lead to improved overall efficiency, setting benchmarks, and more efficient recycling programs.
In this blog post, we will discuss key areas to focus on when reviewing your waste management audit results. We will also provide some tips on how to make changes in these areas so that you can improve your waste management practices.
Why Audit your Waste?
As a business owner, it is important to be aware of where your company’s waste is going and how it is being managed. A waste management audit can help you identify key areas for improvement within your waste management practices. Audits include thorough research into the various waste products that the various areas of your organization as well as a deeper look at the waste management processes you follow. You collect waste from various processes and departments and aggregate the different types of waste into separate piles which are then weighed and logged.
There are many benefits to auditing your waste. Some of these are below.
Reducing your Environmental Impact
By assessing your current waste management practices, you can make changes to reduce your company’s environmental footprint. You get to know what quantities of waste are being produced which can be recycled or reused. You will also find ways to increase your diversion rates by increasing your recycling efforts.
Implementing more efficient waste management practices can save your company money in the long run. By reducing the waste disposal costs, and reusing waste that you produce aggregating transport and vendors, you can save a lot of hard-earned dollars.
Complying with Regulations
Depending on your industry, there may be regulations in place that require you to audit your waste regularly. There are diversion goals which stipulate that you must recycle a certain percentage of waste. Staying compliant with these regulations can avoid costly penalties or fines.
Creating a Competitive Advantage
Being seen as a sustainable and eco-friendly business can give you a competitive edge in today’s market. It certainly makes your business more attractive to prospective customers and employees too.
Auditing your waste is an important step in ensuring that your business is operating in an environmentally responsible way. By taking the time to assess your current practices and identify areas for improvement, you can make positive changes that will benefit both your bottom line and the environment.
How do you Conduct a Waste Audit?
There are many different ways to conduct a waste audit, but the most important thing is to be thorough. You’ll want to look at everything from how much waste your organization generates to what kind of waste it is.
Once you have all of this information, you can start to identify areas where your organization can improve its waste management practices. Here is how a typical audit usually takes place.
- An audit team is assembled from the various departments of the organization. This has to include senior leaders, waste management professionals, and even external consultants from your vendors for expert input.
- The audit team together with the other employees works on aggregating the waste generated from the various departments and processes over a fixed period of time- say a week.
- The waste collected is then segregated into various trash bags or recycling bins and measured on-site.
- The different waste types such as food waste, plastic, metal, paper, and hazardous waste are noted as well as the quantities that are being generated. This can be broken down by departments, and processes and based on other such criteria.
- The data collected is then analyzed to derive results that can be further used to streamline your waste management processes.
How to Use Results from the Waste Audit to Improve your Waste Management
When you’ve completed a waste audit, you have a wealth of valuable information at your fingertips. To put this data to good use and make improvements to your waste management, here are some key areas to focus on:
Reducing the Amount of Waste your Organization Generates
This is often the best place to start when trying to improve your organization’s waste management practices. There are many ways to reduce the amount of waste your organization generates. By eliminating some types of waste altogether or by finding ways to reuse some of the materials, you can reduce the amount of waste you produce. Aspects like composting and recycling are also important in waste reduction.
Implement a Waste Segregation System
One of the most important things you can do to improve your waste management is to implement a waste segregation system. This will ensure that different types of waste are disposed of properly and minimize the risk of contamination. It will also help a lot with your recycling efforts where you can segregate the different types of waste without contaminating it and can be baled and sent to recycling facilities.
Increase Recycling Rates
One of the main goals of any waste management improvement plan should be to increase recycling rates and improve waste diversion. By segregating waste and ensuring that recyclables are properly processed, you can reduce the amount of waste that ends up in a landfill significantly. By improving your waste collection methods through well-placed recycling bins and proper signage, you can get a lot more recyclable waste segregated and collected at the source. The audit helps you establish a baseline for the amount of recyclables. This helps you find vendors or buyers who will be willing to buy these waste commodities.
Improving the Way your Organization Disposes of its Waste
Once you’ve reduced the amount of waste your organization generates, you’ll need to focus on how it disposes of that waste. After all, it is often impossible to reduce the waste to zero and you may need to dispose of some waste. Make sure all wastes are properly sorted and disposed of in the appropriate receptacles. Finding the right vendors to handle these waste materials is the next step. You can assess the quantity of waste you are dealing with more effectively once you have audited your waste.
Reduce your Costs
One of the biggest benefits of an audit is finding cost savings in your waste management process. The audit report will give you a fair idea about the different types and quantities of waste. By reducing waste and recycling/reusing a portion of it in-house, you reduce a lot of load on your waste management system. The amount of waste that is being disposed of reduces which helps reduce costs. Waste segregation initiatives can also help you find waste commodities that can be sold in the market for supplementary income which further helps in keeping costs down.
Certifications and Compliance
One of the other aspects to focus on is your compliance and certifications if you are keen on this. A waste audit is key in establishing benchmarks. If you know where you stand currently, you can focus on ways to move towards a better system. If you want to get a Zero waste certification or a LEED rating for your facility, you need these benchmarks. Audit results can also be used in remaining compliant. By keeping track of all your waste management efforts, you can ensure that you’re not toeing the line of compliance and you remain committed to sustainability.
Educating Employees about Proper Waste Management Practices
One of the most important aspects of improving and sustaining your organization’s waste management practices is educating employees about what they can do to help. Make sure all employees know about proper sorting and disposal procedures and make sure they understand the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling. An audit will help you identify gaps here and allow you to educate your staff better. By using case studies, improving the placement of dumpsters and recycling bins, and using proper signage, you can educate your staff in being more conscious about waste.
Solid waste management in any organization is not a simple task by any means. The bigger you are, the more waste you generate and the more complex your waste management gets. An audit is key in helping you understand where you stand. It will also help you chart a course for the future.
By implementing cost-effective methods to deal with waste and reducing waste wherever possible, you can move one step closer to being a sustainable business. The audit results will be the cornerstone of this journey!
At Waste Control, we are great advocates for running a thorough audit and being consistent about it. A waste audit needs expert input if you are to get the maximum benefits out of it. We have helped hundreds of clients run audits in their facilities which has thrown up surprising results and has helped them save on their waste management expenses. Get in touch with us today to get an audit done!