How to Conduct a Waste Audit. (BWR’s latest MLN article)

How to Conduct a Waste Audit

A waste audit is a way to quantify the amount and types of waste being generated by your business. Conducting a waste audit will help you to identify your current waste practices and also prioritise key areas for improvement. It will also help you to identify potential savings, as well as revenue opportunities.  This is something that applies to all businesses, no matter what size or sector.

It is advised that you do not tell staff that there is going to be a waste audit, as they may change their waste behaviours temporarily and the results of your audit will therefore be less accurate.  Waste audits need not be very expensive or time consuming. Our simple suggestion is as follows:

  • A good starting point is often to simply take a walk around your business and observe waste practices and behaviours. Observe what materials are being recycled, and what is being thrown in the bin. How many bins are there and how full are they? Are there different bins for recyclable and non recyclable waste?
  • Chat informally to staff about how they deal with the waste they generate. This will give you a quick initial snap shot, but you may want to carry out a more in depth review in order to get the best results.
  • Before you go any further it is important to consider safety and confidentiality issues. Those involved in the waste audit should wear protective gloves, and should enusre that there are adequate confidentiality provisons, as some paper waste may contain personal information.
  • Having done this, you should then collect the waste, clearly recording the date it was collected and where it has come from. You should then sort the waste according to type, such as paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, metal, timber etc. Note especially recycable items that have not been recycled. Such items may include batteries and empty ink cartridges, which can generate revenue when recycled.
  • You should then record and analyse your findings and make recomendations for future improvement. It is important to record your findings accurately so that you have something to compare against in your follow up audit. Identify ways to reduce waste generation and increase recycling.
  • Present your findings to all members of staff.  Make them aware of any changes in your waste management policy and secure their commitment to act upon the results.
  • You may want to carry out a follow up audit in a few weeks/months in order to monitor progress and identify further areas for improvement.

Prepared by David Taylor, Bailey Waste.  For more information on waste management solutions, or to arrange a Free, no obligation, Waste Audit, to be carried out on your business please contact Bailey Waste on 028 3834 1449, online at or by email