Sustainability 101

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

Study Based On 100 Waste Audits Reveal Much About What A Typical Office Throws Out

Did you know, the average commercial office waste stream in the U.S. consists of approximately 77% recyclable and compostable materials, with only about 23% being real “trash.” This revelation comes from a study of 100 commercial waste audits conducted across the country by Great Forest.

77% of what is usually thrown out as trash is NOT trash at all but is 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 held July 2017:

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

Great Forest at the recent NYC Food Waste Fair

Key Takeaway:  Waste Audits Are Key

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 just by capturing and effectively dealing with ALL your recyclables, including organics.

  1. To do this, start with a waste audit.  Find out what you really are throwing away. A waste audit will give you the crucial data you need to make informed decisions, including improvements that can be made to your existing waste and recycling program.
  2. Consider a centralized waste bin system. Companies can reduce what goes into their waste stream by implementing strategic waste management initiatives that improve separation of waste materials. A centralized waste bin system is one of the easiest ways to do that. Download this free white paper to learn more.

The benefits?

  • 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

Learn more about waste audits:

Learn more about addressing your organics:

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