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Some Basics for Conducting a Waste Assessment

A waste assessment is an important step in waste reduction, as it will show you how much waste is being generated by your company and potential ways to reduce that waste. If you already have waste reduction practices being used, it will also show you how effective they are. Lastly, a waste assessment will give you information that you can use to compare with future assessments to evaluate how your waste reduction program is proceeding.

There are three different approaches to conducting waste assessments. A waste assessment can include just one or a combination of the three depending on factors such as the amount of waste produced, the size of the company, and the resources provided to the waste reduction program. 

1.      Records Examination
Look over the following recommended records to determine the company’s waste generation:

-        Purchasing, inventory, maintenance, and operating logs

-        Supply, equipment, and raw material invoices.

-        Equipment service contracts.

-        Repair invoices

-        Waste hauling and disposal records and contracts.

-        Contracts with recycling facilities and records of earned revenues from recycling.

Use this worksheet from the EPA to record your findings: http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/bus-guid/work-b.pdf
You now have some basic data to measure any waste reduction options with.

2.      Facility Walk-Through
A walk-through of the facility allows you to discover how waste is produced by talking with employees, observing waste production in action, identifying current waste reduction efforts, and discovering inefficiencies in the way waste is moved through the company.

-        Interviewing employees will get them involved first-hand in waste reduction and will provide you with information you may not otherwise get because of their familiarity with the waste produced

-        Don’t only record observations of waste currently being produced, also consider ways to improve efficiency as you conduct your walk-through

-        Use this worksheet from the EPA to record your findings: http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/bus-guid/work-c.pdf

3.      Waste Sort
A waste sort provides more data than a records examination or a facility walk-through because it requires physically measuring a sample of the company’s waste.

-        A waste sort is used when you want to calculate the percentage of each waste item being produced in your company

-        It doesn’t have to encompass the whole company; a waste sort can be conducted to target smaller areas if you believe more waste is being produced in those areas

-        Keep in mind that your company’s waste generation may vary on a day-to-day basis or from season to season. Make sure you take this into account when conducting your waste sort

-        The sample taken needs to be representative of your company’s waste generation or the results will be skewed

-        Use this worksheet from the EPA for a step-by-step approach to waste sorts: http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/bus-guid/work-d.pdf

As indicated, the three different approaches to waste assessments vary greatly and you have to decide which one(s) will suite your company the best. Just remember to keep your EPA worksheets and documentation of the waste assessment process so you’ll have data and information to look back on during the rest of your waste reduction program. After you have a better idea of your trash profile and the volume you will be in a much better position to look into Waste Recycling Equipment such as Trash Compactors, Balers, Shredders, Grinders, Densifiers, Crushers and other related products.


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