The purpose of this Guidance Note is to provide guidance for asset managers, property managers and facilities managers on the arrangements involved in undertaking a waste audit.
Waste audits are a form of assessment which help to establish the type and quantity of waste produced at a property, to determine whether waste management arrangements are being followed and are effective, and to identify opportunities to improve waste management and performance.
There are a number of common waste audit types, for example:
While there is no specific legislation compelling a company to undertake a waste audit, the outcome from waste audits can contribute towards related compliance areas. For example, understanding the waste profile of a building can provide information relevant to Duty of Care responsibilities.
The primary benefit from undertaking a waste audit is the contribution that the outcomes make to a wider waste strategy, in particular, identifying compliance risks and improvement opportunities, and informing the development of waste management plans and targets. The results of waste audits can also be used to engage employees, occupiers and suppliers in the drive towards responsible waste behaviours.
The table below summarises the key activities associated with waste audits, and highlights where asset managers, property managers and facilities managers are likely to have a responsibility or specific interest.
Step 1: Establish audit oversight and scope
Step 2: Secure a competent waste assessor
Step 3: Review waste profile
Step 4: Review waste management arrangements
Step 5: Identify waste opportunities
Step 6: Review and continue to improve
Step 7: Data collection and Accuracy
A waste audit is usually established at the property level, although it is possible to combine an audit across multiple sites, and a program of waste audits is often undertaken at a portfolio level.
A property manager will most often be responsible for coordinating the audit process, with information and support provided by a facilities manager. The various audit outcomes will be of interest to all stakeholders, including asset managers.
The process of undertaking a waste audit should take place within a wider framework for the governance of audit and assurance activities, and should include the following steps:
It is important that a forum, committee or body is established to provide oversight of the audit process, to validate outcomes, and to check that recommended actions are allocated appropriately.
Determining the audit scope should involve consideration of a number of issues, including:
The frequency of waste audits is also relevant. In determining frequency, it may be useful to consider the annual waste disposal spend, as well as current waste management performance, based on reported recycling rates and tonnage of residual waste produced. As a rule of thumb, sites can be broken down by annual spend as follows:
While there are no mandated qualifications or accreditations to undertake a waste audit, the individual undertaking the assessment should have knowledge and experience appropriate to the audit’s scope.
As a minimum, a waste auditor should have experience in relation to waste management, the property and equipment type involved, and the processes and arrangements involved in audit and assurance activities.
If waste related infrastructure, plant and supply contracts are included in the scope, specialist industry equipment and knowledge may be necessary.
When considering contracting a third party to undertake the audit on their behalf, a property manager should consider:
The preparation of a property’s waste profile is a central output of a waste audit. This should include, as a minimum, total waste consumption by weight, broken down by waste type and source.
The waste profile should be compared against historical trends, with the intention of identifying the areas of greatest consumption and anomalies in expected waste generation.
Performance against historical waste targets should be reviewed to determine the extent that progress towards intended improvements is on track.
Alongside this, a waste audit should check that management arrangements, such as processes to monitor and review waste consumption, or to check that recommended actions from previous waste audits are being deployed. There should be evidence that such arrangements are in place and are being implemented.
Waste processing equipment and signage
A review of the availability and type of waste processing equipment should include:
Signage is of specific importance where streams have been identified as having a high percentage of contamination rate, for example greater than 15%. should be reviewed to ensure:
A key component of a waste audit is to identify opportunities to improve waste management. This is partly informed through the analysis of a property’s waste profile and is complemented by general observation of equipment and operational practices.
Alongside opportunities to reduce waste, a waste audit may also consider opportunities to improvement wider waste management activities. For example, the metering arrangements for recording and collating waste data, or how waste minimisation awareness raising is undertaken.
The outcomes from a waste audit, including recommended improvement actions, should be documented and reviewed by the oversight body. An action plan should set out improvement opportunities alongside timeframes and responsibilities and should inform the development of waste targets.
Ongoing waste generation, progress against targets and the implementation of action plans should be periodically reviewed by the oversight body, or an appropriate forum with responsibility for a property’s waste or environmental management activities.
Measuring the success of improvements undertaken as part of a waste audit relies on having accurate data. To enable this, the scope of a waste audit should look at the availability and accuracy of a site’s waste data. This includes:
The following Guidance Notes contain related information:
By engaging with occupiers, Workspace has significantly improved recycling rates across its network of business centres. Alongside improvements to facilities, recycling roadshows have proven to be a great way of getting people’s attention. Workspace’s business centres have typically seen a 10% increase in recycling after roadshows.
Read the case study here.