We’ve all taken out the trash at some point, but have you ever stopped and taken a close look at the waste you’ve generated? Give it a try, and record the amount of recyclables and food waste that’s being discarded. An odd tomato or plastic bag here and there won’t make much of a difference, right? But, with a global population of 7.9 billion people, accumulated volumes of waste at landfill sites is a recipe for disaster on an environmental, social, and economic level.
Now, let’s bring industries into the picture. The 2021 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), stated that global waste management activities, including landfills, generated 64 million tonnes/year of methane emissions between 2008-2017. Methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide!
This year at the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP), the Global Recycling Foundation, is calling for recycling to be at the forefront of discussions surrounding the immediate actions that can be undertaken to stop and prevent further increases in global warming temperatures. According to the Global Recycling Foundation, the recycling industry is projected to save over a billion tonnes in emissions and add nearly $500 billion to global GDP by 2030.
But, how do we develop innovations for recycling waste, when we don’t understand what’s in our waste?
You cannot manage what you haven’t measured
An effective solution to this conundrum is Waste Audits. A waste audit intensively examines the waste that has been generated and being sent to landfill. This process is essential for organizations, and even individuals, who want to begin a zero waste journey. We refer to it as a journey, as it’s not a once-off event. Reaching zero waste requires an iterative approach, that strives for continual improvement of an organization’s waste performance.
The waste audit process itself is a collaborative effort between a waste management specialist and the waste generator. At Don’t Waste, our waste audit teams literally sort through all remaining waste going for disposal, categorise them into various types of waste, weigh, and record the volumes thereof. Results are reviewed by our expert waste analysts, who will present advanced reports on the waste profile generated.
The benefits of conducting waste audits
The benefits of waste audits extend far beyond reducing your waste. It causes a ripple effect across the finance (waste cost saving and new sources of revenue), environmental (improved environmental performance), and operations (improved resource efficiency) aspects of a business.
Benefits of waste audits
It also provides a means of measuring the effectiveness of your current waste management systems, and identifies areas for improvement and opportunities to work smarter and more efficiently. A waste audit can be conducted on any type of waste e.g.: office, commercial, retail, industrial, hospitality and municipal waste. Even football teams have found value in waste audits and have integrated it into their sustainability plans (Read: How To Futureproof Football: Part 2- Guidelines For Efficient And Effective Waste Management Strategies At Football Clubs.)
How can waste audits help in the fight against climate change?
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are categorised into three groups or ‘Scopes’ by the most widely-used international accounting tool, the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol:
Scope 1: covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources.
Scope 2: covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company.
Scope 3: includes all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain.
Armed with the knowledge of its waste composition, organizations can easily set realistic and achievable targets to reduce its Scope 3 emissions.
Categories of GHG emissions (Source)
Waste is the fourth largest source sector of emissions, accounting for 3% of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. The European Environmental Agency reported that between 1995-2017, GHG scope 3 emissions from waste fell by 42% in the European Union. How did they do it? By reducing solid waste disposals at landfill sites which led to a subsequent increase in the recovery of landfill gas.
Don’t Waste Time, let us measure your waste!
At Don’t Waste, our client’s sustainability journey is our journey. And it starts with an understanding of the types and volumes of waste that they are generating. Our team of sustainability experts analyse the data from the waste audits, and map out a comprehensive suite of solutions that will assist the client in identifying ways to reduce their landfill volumes, maximise the recovery of recyclables, and also offer recommendations for improving the efficiency of their waste operations, aligned to the waste hierarchy. These solutions are often filtered down the supply chain, setting a precedence for suppliers and other contractors to evaluate their own products and processes.
In addition, our advanced proptech software and waste management systems, ensure that our recommendations work in unison with the onsite operations at a client site. Our systems are able to track, measure and monitor waste movement within a site, right until its final destination point. Our impressive Don’t Waste App in combination with our Tenant Billing system, empowers landlords and property owners with multiple occupiers, to monitor the waste performance of each tenant, highlighting areas of non-conformance, encouraging them to do better.
At Don’t Waste, our clients are able to easily monitor and report on their environmental savings generated from their recycling and avoidance activities in live time, through our advanced CEP portal.
Global leaders will commit to ambitious targets at COP26 this year. The ultimate goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, in accordance with the Paris Agreement. We urge businesses and greater societies to prioritise sustainable waste management practices in their zero waste objectives. It is critical to act immediately and decisively in reducing the amount of waste decomposing at landfill sites. Our collaborative actions today, will pay off in dividends tomorrow.
Chantal Motilall- Sustainability Lead: (Email: )