Managing your waste as a business

Business Waste Audits

The first step to understanding the waste your business produces is by conducting a waste audit. This will help you to understand the issues you have regarding waste.

Internal waste audit or get a external company in?

You could use an outside company that could carry out a business waste audit, they will take you through the process and are on hand to work out your next steps following the audit. This will suit larger or more complex businesses such as agriculture or industrial.

Companies that carry out business audits:

Small businesses or businesses that are just looking at an idea of the waste produced may wish to carry out their own waste audit.

To do this you will need to look at:

  • Who collects the waste and when?
  • Identify the waste, its amount, and where it comes from
  • Where are your waste disposal points, (kitchen, yard)

Don’t let staff or customers know you are conducting an audit; they may change their behaviour and the data will not show a true picture.

Steps to conducting a waste audit

  1. The first step to conducting a waste audit is to understand what waste you produce; this can help you see where you can cut back on unnecessary waste or make changes to reusing/ refusing certain waste streams in the business
  2. Pick an average week where you can carry out this audit, taking into account waste collection time that could interfere with data
  3. Ensure you have all the equipment needed to carry out the audit, PPE such as rubber gloves, masks, bags etc
  4. Throughout the audit pay attention to the amount of bags of rubbish thrown away per day, where is waste stored? (Are some bins used more than others)
  5. Weigh the waste if you can, then sort through and separate waste into different streams, and note down any items that are recyclable or reusable
  6. You can sort the waste daily and calculate the total at the end of the week or complete an audit at the end of the week with the whole amount that has been collected and stored

Analyse and implement changes

Analyse the data, this will allow you to see where changes can be made and what items are being disposed of incorrectly.

What type of waste has the highest volume?

  • Are there recyclable or reusable items thrown into the landfill bins?
  • Work on changes that can be made
  • This could include increasing the number of bins on site and making sure they are colour coded to ensure the right items are disposed of in the right bins
  • Is more signage needed to ensure staff or customers are disposing of items correctly?
  • How can you reduce the amount of waste you produce, speak to your suppliers and ask about recyclable packaging or reusable products
  • If you are a café, sell reusable keep cups, or join a cup cycling network, offer a discount to customers who use these products

Food waste audits

Choose a time of day to carry out your audit, around three days would be best, due to hygiene regulations.

Food waste can be split into three categories:

  • Food prep – fruit and veg peelings
  • Plate waste – food leftover by customers
  • Spoiled food – unsold products, food that has expired

To understand your food waste better you should have three separate bins for the audit, this will allow you to work out where most of the food waste comes from.

At the end of the audit, calculate/ weigh the amount of waste in each category and from there you can start to work on what changes are needed to reduce this waste which could save you time and money.

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