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How to Make an Effective Waste Disposal Audit with Cost Benefits

Promote sustainability, cut operational costs, and optimize material procurement through conducting a waste disposal audit. Find out how your company can reduce its carbon footprint while at the same time making itself more marketable to consumers.

What is a Waste Disposal Audit?

A waste disposal audit is a program for inspecting and assessing the waste generated by an entity. This includes the meticulous review of what types of waste are being produced and in what quantity. After this process is completed, waste managers make the appropriate changes to improve waste management and promote sustainability.

From the book “What a Waste 2.0 : A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050” published by the World Bank, the approximate global waste production is 2.01 billion tons annually. And if changes aren’t made to adopt more sustainable methods, the World Bank predicts that global waste production will increase to 3.4 billion tons by 2050. But this predicted rate might still increase because it is correlated to many factors such as economic growth, population growth, and urbanization.

Due to the alarming amount of wastes generated by residential, commercial, and industrial sectors and its environmental impact, waste management has become a requirement that’s strictly implemented by government agencies and international organizations.

To fully support the global movement to mitigate waste and comply with government requirements, it is very important to use effective procedures and fully understand the benefits of conducting effective waste disposal.

In this article, the following points are explained:

1. Conducting a successful waste audit

2. Benefits of a waste removal audit

3. Advantages of a digital checklist

Employee conducting a waste disposal audit and sorting trash

How to Setup and Conduct an Effective Waste Disposal Audit

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are several ways to conduct an effective waste removal audit. Below are three important steps that should be included:

1) Create a Waste Audit Team

The first important process in creating an effective waste audit is to form a team dedicated to this task. When selecting members and forming the team, it is essential to consider the different aspects of waste management, such as planning and implementation. This way, the formed group will do well from start to finish.

If there already is an existing team, then look for aspects to improve or leverage. One of which is providing training or adding new members that can make up for what the team lacks.

At the start of the audit, it is crucial to hold a meeting to set the general direction for the team. Afterward, hold regular meetings to track the progress and celebrate small wins.

2) Do a Waste Assessment

A waste assessment is a process of identifying all the generated waste, evaluating the current waste reduction programs, and optimization of material purchase and waste management programs. Below, are the three of the most commonly used methods.

After conducting a waste assessment, it is best to brainstorm how the team can implement possible waste reduction activities. The focus of this brainstorming activity should be waste prevention. Recycling and composting should only serve as options when it is unavoidable.

3) Examine Waste Records

The first most common method in a waste assessment is to check the existing records. In addition, managers should also check the following:

  • Purchase logs
  • Inventory lists
  • Operation and maintenance logs
  • Invoices of supplies, equipment, and materials
  • Waste disposal records
  • Contracts with waste treatment companies and recycling facilities

Checking these records will aid in having a better understanding of an entity’s material inflow and outflow. This will also be of great help when optimizing waste management programs.

4) Conduct a Walkthrough

Aside from checking records, the next most common method for waste assessments is conducting a walkthrough. This involves physically touring all the facilities and taking notes of the aspects below:

  • Type and amount of the produced wastes
  • Activities and equipment that produce waste
  • Any inefficient work activity that contributes to waste generation
  • Overview of the operational layout of the facilities
  • Possible layout improvements that can be done to maximize space and create storage areas for recycling operations
  • Details of all the waste reduction programs
  • Inputs from managers and supervisors regarding waste management

The collected information from a walkthrough will be valuable in making improvements to operational workflow and waste recycling efforts.

5) Sorting Waste

Sorting the waste involves collecting, sorting, and weighing waste samples generated by an entity. The goal is to calculate how much each waste sample contributes to the total generated waste of a facility. This data will help in deciding which waste disposal programs to prioritize when making improvements later down the line.

By definition, waste sorting is tedious, and that is why there are various approaches on how to do it efficiently. Some companies do this by calculating their net waste generated per day, while some companies do this on a multi-day basis which can be either scheduled or randomized.

Selecting categories in which the waste can be sorted will depend on the company or organization. That is why it is up to the waste disposal audit teams to study the waste samples and create a customized category list.

6) Improve Current Waste Disposal Programs

After using the data from the waste assessment, the next step in the waste disposal audit is to improve the current programs. You can do this by brainstorming with the team.

The first thing to consider when making improvements is to implement plans for waste prevention. Waste prevention is defined as taking action before a material, substance, or product is no longer usable. There are three common methods on how to achieve this.

  • Reduction – This involves changing work policies or procedures that are currently in place in order to generate less waste. An excellent example of this is the paperless policy.
  • Reuse – This involves repairing, recovery, refurbishing, or repurposing the waste material or product. An example of this is buying drinks like soft drinks or milk with returnable containers.
  • Donation – This involves giving away any material or products to another person or party who needs and can use them. An example of this is donating clothes and apparel to those who are less fortunate.

When recycling is unavoidable, it is important to keep in mind two factors: availability and engagement. Availability refers to reaching out to the local government to find out where and how to recycle according to their specific guidelines, while engagement refers to educating the team and other people involved, like workers or nearby communities, about recycling and its benefits.

What Are the Benefits of Conducting a Waste Removal Audit?

Conducting a waste removal audit is tedious, but it does come with several benefits. Many companies that have taken waste management seriously have seen the benefits below.

  • Financial Savings – Due to the optimization brought about by an effective waste disposal audit, companies have seen a decrease in their operational costs. This benefit is especially apparent to companies that have multiple recycling activities in place. Depending on the location, some government agencies offer subsidies for outstanding waste management practices.
  • Lessen Environmental Impact – The result of the waste disposal audit is implementing practices that lessen the usage of essential resources, like clean water and energy. This results in the reduction of air and water pollutants.
  • Branding Opportunities – Being labeled as a company that sustainably conducts business offers a better brand image and appeal to customers.

An office waste basket filled to the brim with paper

What Are the Benefits of Digitizing Waste Disposal Audits?

Being mindful of how and where you dispose of waste is not only good for the environment but surprisingly profitable. Companies can reduce their operational expenses at the same time branding themselves as eco-friendly, a major selling point to many young consumers. Making the choice to conduct audits of how your company handles its waste comes with the responsibility to lessen one’s carbon footprint. Most companies find that their biggest source of waste is their reckless use of paper. However, Lumiform offers a digital solution:

  • Saves Time – The digital advantage of a mobile app is it allows inspectors to conduct audits up to 30%-40% faster than ever before.
  • Saves Money – Being able to more quickly identify areas where you can improve on your waste disposal practices saves you money in the long term.
  • Get Real-Time Updates – Get immediately notified of any issues flagged in the field by your auditors. This way, you can make necessary changes immediately.
  • Get Reports – All your data is automatically bundled into a digital report for you to analyze and share with your colleagues, now or later.

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Employee wearing gloves and holding a trash bag
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