Sustainability 101

Over 100 Waste Audits Reveal 77% Of Trash Is Not Trash At All!

What is in your trash? A Great Forest study based on 100 commercial waste audits revealed that 77% of what is usually thrown out as trash is NOT trash at all but recyclable materials.  The bulk of the 77% of recyclables was made up of organics (34%), followed by paper (23%), glass/metal/plastic (19%), and e-waste (1%).

This means that in a typical business, only 23% of what is being thrown out is actually trash (ie: non-recyclable materials).  Not only are many businesses losing 77% of the recyclable commodities they are discarding in the trash, but they may also be paying more for waste removal than they should. That is a lot of lost value.

Stephanie Barger of the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council put it best when she said this during a panel at the inaugural NYC Food Waste Fair:

“…every time you throw away recyclables, you throw away jobs and resources.”

Great Forest at the recent NYC Food Waste Fair


A key takeaway:  waste audits are important

So how much trash is in your trash? How much value are you losing? The only way to find out is to conduct a waste audit.

Various businesses that shared their experiences during panels at the NYC Food Waste Fair agreed about the importance of tracking and analyzing waste [read our new waste audit case study].

  • Etsy reported that they do waste audits on a daily basis
  • Dr. Nadereh Afsharmanesh of Earth Friendly Products told the audience that she personally looks in the company’s dumpster each week after discovering that 60% of what was in their trash were recyclables.
  • Sodexo is reportedly conducting waste trainings to teach select staff how to do waste audits.

What does this mean for you?   

The answer is simple. You can make a BIG impact. By effectively dealing with ALL your recyclables, including organics, you can:

  • Reduce trash by as much as 77% with improved organics and recycling separation
  • Be a leader in the global Zero Waste movement
  • Enhance your environmental profile to staff, clients and stakeholders
  • Achieve your sustainability goals
  • Save money by reducing trash removal costs, avoiding fines, and improving operational efficiency

To do this, start with a waste audit.

Learn more about waste audits:

Learn more about addressing your organics:

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