Why You Need an External Waste Audit for Your Recycling Program

Whether you’re just getting started with sustainability initiatives or you already have a recycling program in place, a waste audit can play an important role in ensuring your organization is handling its waste responsibly. After all, when you invest in a recycling program, you want to know it’s working properly.

What is a Waste Audit?

A waste management audit helps determine the effectiveness of your recycling program. Different waste audit providers have different methodologies, but the goal is always the same: to analyze your organization’s waste stream. It’s a sophisticated, data-driven dumpster dive that looks at what and how much you’re throwing away and what’s being recycled and diverted.

But why does knowing this matter?

The Importance of a Waste Audit

Incredibly, 80% of what goes into the waste stream is recyclable, and the largest portion of that is organic food waste. On average, 77% of what companies throw out is actually recyclable.

Waste audits provide several advantages to organizations, including:

  • A clear picture of the effectiveness of your current waste operations. With a waste stream audit, you’re able to uncover your waste management’s overall efficiency. Your team can identify what’s working and what isn’t and find problems or confirm successes.
  • An idea of where and how to save money in waste costs. When you perform a waste audit, you can see if you’re overspending in waste costs. For example, if the waste audit shows the majority of your company’s trash is food, you can set up an organics recycling program to cut back on unnecessary waste and hauling costs.

Through a waste management audit, one of our customers, a large food chain, discovered 40% of their waste was unused flour. They realized they could order less flour and produce less waste, saving them substantial money in the long run.

Regular waste audits also prevent fines, like when AT&T was fined $23.8 million, and Comcast was fined $28 million for disposing of hazardous wastes improperly. So, for the C-Suite executives who may need some convincing, waste audits are helpful to the bottom line, too.

  • Determine the best place for your recycling bins. A waste audit can help you figure out where you should put your bins for maximum recycling efficiency. The data might show that people use bins in some areas but not others. It might also highlight that more education or signage is necessary to get your staff on board.  
  • Verifiable data to measure success and prevent “greenwashing.” The reality is that you don’t really know what is or isn’t happening in your waste stream until you verify it. Waste audits give you verifiable data to measure your company’s sustainability program successes or highlight where you can improve.
  • Help meet compliance and certification standards. Most companies and municipalities need to show their sustainability program is effective for their ESG score. Other organizations need it for LEED or other certifications. In some cases, like in California, you’re mandated to perform waste management audits for two years if you’re caught breaking a waste ordinance. Additionally, you must prove you’re taking the waste audits seriously through program alterations.

So, how do you get started with a waste stream audit?

Your Options for a Waste Management Audit

Traditionally, the waste audit process has been expensive and cumbersome. In the past, there were two main types of audits. For the first type, an audit company comes to your location and removes materials from your waste containers, which they then sort through and generate a report based on their findings. These have traditionally been a very expensive option for most locations. Since most waste audit groups are not in every market, expenses like travel get added to the final cost. A second popular option is placing sensors and cameras on every container. (This can be costly if you have a lot of dumpsters.) Then, you sign a 36-month contract to get started, and the company tracks your waste for 36 months.

But, if in that time, the audit proves you don’t have a problem, or you’re able to correct any issues within a few months, you still have to pay for the full three-year commitment. This is incredibly cost-prohibitive, and for most organizations, it’s overkill.

As a result, many organizations have opted to forego the waste audit altogether. That isn’t the best course of action either because, without a waste audit, you have no tracking, no data, and no process for validating your recycling program.

The answer isn’t to skip the waste stream audit but instead to find one that works for your budget and goals.

At CheckSammy, we offer a meet-in-the middle option. We can come in quarterly, bi-annually, or annually to audit your recycling program without requiring sensors and cameras on your dumpsters. Because of our extensive national network, we don’t have the high overhead of travel expenses that most audits come with. Our waste audit prices are straightforward, with no hidden fees – ever. Plus, our granular reporting provides actionable insights to improve your process without breaking the bank.

Contact us today to get started.

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