The first step is understanding how much waste you generate and what waste you could recycle or compost.
A waste audit can help identify recycling and composting opportunities, help you understand the potential savings from reduced disposal costs and establish baseline data for future measuring efforts.You have a few options for conducting a waste audit:
Do it yourself. This is good for smaller restaurant operations with fairly consistent material streams. Consult the following resources for assistance:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers step-by-step procedures on performing an audit.
For a step by step guide on how to conduct your own waste audit and to download your own waste audit form, check out our resources below.
Contact your waste hauler, recycling service or waste/recycling consultant. They may be able to conduct the audit for you. This is helpful for larger operations.
Next, identify opportunities for diverting items from landfills to recycling and/or composting streams. Find out which materials recyclers and composters accept, as they vary from city to city.
Remember to review:
Purchasing and inventory records: Check to make sure you’re buying only what you need. This is especially important with perishable items.
Waste hauling and disposal records and contracts: Records will show the amount of waste disposed of and related charges. Examine 12 months of records to identify fluctuations in the amount of waste produced and any opportunities to reduce that waste and service fees.
Real World Tip:
Check your county or city recycling program. Many programs offer free services to businesses. For example, the City of Ann Arbor, Mich., provides free services such as on-site waste and recycling analysis, assistance in developing a collection system, free education and training for employees, and extra recycling pick-ups on request.
Click on the buttons below to find a step by step guide on how to peform your first waste audit, and a downloadable waste audit form to assist you in the process.
Watch this short video from the National Restaurant Association to find out more about performing an audit: