A waste audit is a process used to calculate the type and amount of waste generated by an organization. Any size organization can perform this type of audit. The data collected from the audit will identify the type of waste produced by the organization and how the organization manages this waste. The audit can also make the organization more effective at reducing waste management costs by educating staff about proper waste disposal and making better use of natural resources. When performing a waste audit, the organization should not inform staff about the audit prior to the completion of the audit. Informing staff in advance can alter waste disposal habits resulting in an inaccurate and counterproductive audit.
An effective waste reduction program must be based on current and accurate information on the quantity and composition of the waste stream. Therefore, the first step is a “waste audit,” a systematic procedure to review operations and subsequently, waste generation. Performing this exercise will define the composition of your discards by examining how materials enter and exit your facility.
All operations produce waste and there is nothing shameful or wrong by recognizing it. However, today’s concern over waste generation and increasing costs of collection and disposal are good reasons to find out how to reduce waste, increase recycling, and try to cut costs. An audit alone will not reduce your business’ waste. Rather, it is the starting point that will enable your business to make informed decisions on how to allocate resources for source reduction and recycling programs.