What is a Waste Audit?
It’s a way to measure the amount of waste against the type of waste your household produces!
Why is it useful?
Waste audits help determine the most heavily discarded items in your household. With this information, you can make solutions to curb your impact in a way that is tailored to your lifestyle. Basically, it helps you send less trash to the landfill considering your household’s needs.
For example, if you throw away a lot of old produce, you may want to think about creating a compost bin. This way, you can divert old food from the landfill and make dirt for your garden. Another solution is to buy more frozen fruits and vegetables so that they last longer and you can consume them at your convenience.
You may also discover that what you’re throwing out, isn’t actually trash at all. You may find things that are actually recyclable… most of the packaging on food products is recyclable after a quick rinse! Clean cardboard is always recyclable and plastic wrapping can be saved for recycling at specialized bins or at KPB’s plastic Bag Swap!
How do I conduct a Waste Audit?
Step 1: Determine Categories of Trash
Common categories include paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, other plastic, glass, food waste, materials packaging, cans, etc.
Step 2: Gather Tools
Waste Audits can be pretty gnarly depending on the type of trash you’re sorting through. Be prepared to get down and dirty!
Items you’ll need include a large outdoor area for sorting the trash, a disposable tarp, rubber gloves, face mask, pants, tongs (optional), labelled box for waste in each category, a bathroom scale or hanging scale to weigh items in each category, a clipboard to record results, and trash bags for tossing out your items post-audit.
Step 3: Sort Your Trash
1. Before your trash pick-up day, bring all of your bags of trash onto the disposable tarp.
2. Weigh your bags before dumping the contents onto the tarp to get a baseline of the garbage you produce weekly.
3. Wearing your gloves and face mask, empty contents and sort into their proper category boxes.
4. As you sort, look out for any recyclables in your trash and take note.
5. Weigh each category of trash once finished.
Step 4: Analyze
Congrats! Now that you’ve done the dirty work, take a look at your results.
Ask yourself these questions:
What is the largest source of waste? How could I reduce it?
How many items were thrown away that could’ve been recycled? Why did you throw it away?
Are you using a lot more X than you expected?
Could you switch any of these single-use items for reusable alternatives?
What could I do to produce less trash?
Step 5: Action Plan
Hopefully by now, you’ve identified some measures you can put into place to reduce the amount of waste your household produces! It can seem like a daunting task a first, but these changes will feel like routine in no time! Set goals for yourself and don’t feel like you need to do accomplish everything at once. Make your changes one by one and do the best you can. You’ve already made a great start in reducing your impact as awareness is the first step!
If you have any more questions, would like KPB to conduct a Waste Audit for your business, or would like more resources, please feel free to let us know!
Our guide is an adapted version of these instructions.