Urban Impact wants to partner with our customers in reducing their waste and improving their waste diversion efforts. Garbage could be thing of the past, if waste diversion and avoidance efforts are taken seriously and technological developments continue to improve in alternate packaging and products, What was once garbage, will in fact be a resource and we will be on our way to a world without waste.
What tools do we have to see how we are doing with respect to both diversion and waste avoidance?
Waste Audits are an excellent tool to review the composition of what remains in the waste stream after recycling and composting. Urban Impact’s Waste Audits involve taking a representative sample of waste, sorting and categorizing it clearly, taking photographs and recording observations of the waste stream and providing recommendations and goals in terms of additional diversion efforts to be made. Waste Audits should be done regularly to monitor progress; frequency depends on the size and complexity of the organization and can range from annual to every two to three years.
A Waste Audit clearly identifies what remains in the waste. This is an excellent and large step in understanding and planning future steps to increase diversion. We have played an important part in our customers waste diversion goals by providing Waste Audit services. We feel that the Waste Audit is an important first step, but there are additional steps that should be taken to seriously and aggressively move towards zero waste.
Waste Generated per Capita
Organizations often emphasize the volume of material they recycle, while overlooking a potentially more important indicator: Waste Generated per Capita. The Waste Generated per Capita is a simple division of Total Waste over a specific period divided by the number of full time equivalent staff, residents, students, passengers or otherwise – a number that would have to be calculated or estimated. Progress of the Waste Generated per Capita indicator should be measured in regular intervals (as is suitable for the organization or location size). Regular intervals can be as frequently as quarterly but likely best done a yearly basis. Progress on this metric can be well represented by a bar graph – hopefully showing a steeply downward trend!
The Waste Generated per Capita is a very important indication of an organization or location’s remaining waste “problem”. Things that will decrease the Waste Generated per Capita are obviously the recycling efforts on site, but also thoughtful consumer choices with respect to goods and services that do not contribute to the waste. Staff or residents increasing the “re-use” of items will contribute significantly to reduced waste, for example not using non-recyclable take out containers, making sure there is no food wastage etc. A company reviewing their purchasing and supply chain sources is also a key contributor in controlling and reducing the waste created.
Recycling and waste diversion are very important, but even more important is a thoughtful choice of waste avoidance. If we can avoid the waste in the first place – this of course would be the right place to start.