Reducing waste at work

Waste audits

What is a waste audit?

picture of people conducting a waste sortDuring a waste audit, you manually separate your organization’s trash into separate categories. Most waste audits include mixed recyclables (cans, bottles, and mixed paper), office paper, compost, trash, and reusable items. Tally the weight and volume for each category, and you can see just how much you put in the trash.

Why perform a waste audit?

A waste audit is a great way to establish baseline data for your trash and identify ways to improve recycling and prevent waste. A follow-up waste audit allows you to measure and celebrate your waste reduction progress.

Who should perform the audit?

Your green team or sustainability team members are perfect for this job. If you haven’t yet established a green team, gather a volunteer group of staff to conduct your waste audit. Getting them involved makes them aware of their own impacts on waste. It also gives them a chance to suggest ways to reduce waste.

What waste should I include in the audit?

Include anything from your building(s) that goes in your trash dumpster. Choose a time frame that best represents the variety of trash from your organization. Are the quantities and types of materials thrown out the same day to day, or do they change? If your trash varies seasonally, it may take more than one audit to establish accurate data.

What should I do after the audit?

  • Provide audit results and photos to staff via email, employee newsletters, or your website.
  • Use the information from the waste audit to help design or improve the recycling system and as a framework for staff awareness.
  • Apply for Thurston Green Business ( recognition! Conducting a waste audit has earned you points toward designation.

Can Thurston County Solid Waste help me with a waste audit?

Absolutely! Our staff can help your employees perform a waste audit. We will bring all the necessary equipment.

The PDFs below will give you an idea of what to expect from the audit process:

image that says go back to step 1

Contact us

Have a question or need help? Contact us at or call 360-867-2491.

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