BASIC STEPS FOR WASTE ASSESSMENTS
Easy guidelines for performing waste assessments in-house
Regardless of the size or type of business or organization you are, there will always be waste and / or recyclables to contend with.
A waste assessment is a visual analysis of your facility that should identify 4 types of information that are vital to your operations:
1) the quantity and type of waste that is found in the facility;
2) the main types of waste;
3) the current systems in place to deal with waste on-site and;
4) how it leaves your facility.
An assessment will help you understand how, why, and where each of the waste streams are generated and will help to recognize areas in need of improvement. One of the main purposes of conducting an in-house waste assessment is to increase efficiency and save money by improving your business’ current recycling and waste management habits. You may have bins set up already for both waste that goes to the landfill and for the recyclalbe waste, but is your current program as efficient as it can be?
Below are the basic steps for conducting an in-house waste assessment. Which will also allow you to see the areas that are working effectively and the areas which are in need of improvement.
The first step of a waste assessment is to measure your facility’s waste. How can you effectively manage something that is not measured? You can’t. Which is why it is important to do a visual assessment prior to waste removal pickup. A bin needs to be set up at various places throughout the facility so you know the areas in which your company’s waste is being generated. Document the size of the bin(s), facility location, and estimate how full they are and how often the waste gets collected. Once you have collected this information you will have a much clearer picture of how much waste is collected in a specific timeframe. It’s when you see and take note of the types of waste in each bin that you know if the bins are set up in the appropriate places throughout the facility. And, when you know what waste is being tossed you can move onto the next step.
The second step is to figure out ways to reduce the amount of waste that is being carried to the landfill. This includes following the four R’s of any waste management program; reduce, reuse, recycle, and re-purpose.
Ø Reduce – Taking a look at your waste, is there a way to reduce, eliminate some of what has ended up in the bin? The less waste you produce the less waste you have to dispose of.
Ø Reuse – Are there other businesses or organizations who may have use for your waste material. If your waste can be used by another company it will not end up in the landfill, thus having less effect on the environment and by passing/donating your resusable waste, you may be giving a company/foundation items that they may not have the resources to aquire on their own.
Ø Recycle – This determines which articles of waste can be targeted for recycling. Many recycled products are separated into specific materials and by changing their physical properties can be made into new products.
Ø Re-purpose – Similiar to recycling in the sense that items are converted for use in another product or by finding a new use for it.
Once it has been determined what can be reduced, reused, recycled, and re-purposed you will know the approximate amount of waste that needs to be disposed of each week/month.
The third step is to identify your local haulers, recyclers and collectors for the waste materials your facility is generating. Once you know how much waste your business is producing over a certain amount of time, and the types of waste material that can be diverted from the landfill, you can then determine which waste and recycling contractor will best suit your facility.
The fourth step is to determine if the bins set up for waste material and/or recyclables are set up in the appropriate place. Are there separate “wet bins” set up in the staff eating area for food scraps? These can be dumped in an on-site composter or carried to the landfill’s compost pile, or do staff have to walk a distance to dump their food scraps in the appropriate place. Even your food scrap waste disposal needs to be organized.
Make note of what is in the bins compared to the location of such product in your facility. If your facility’s bins are placed together to save on space, place smaller bins in the various areas where they are needed, which then can be moved and dumped into the larger bins further away once they are full. This can be done at the end of the day, thus it saves your staff valuable work-time making multiple trips to the waste disoposal area.
While all business’s have to contend with the disposal of waste, doing an in-house waste assessment will help you understand the waste your facility is dealing with and once you have that information you can set up programs that will make the waste removal process more efficient or improve on what you already have in place.
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