What’s in an Average Waste and Recycling Container?
The Good, the Bad and the ‘WHAT’?!
Earlier this summer, several American Disposal employees were asked to conduct a comprehensive waste and recycling audit for one of our commercial customers. Needless to say, American Disposal was up for the challenge and excited to see the results!
But wait… ‘What is a waste and recycling audit and how does a work?’, you might ask.
A waste audit is a comprehensive analysis of the trash or recycling that is ACTUALLY being collected in a particular dumpster.
First, the trash (or recycling) dumpster is emptied out and our dedicated ADS employees carefully sift through all the contents… by hand. (This is certainly a job for gloves!)
During this enlightening (albeit messy) survey process, we sort the content into piles based on material type: recyclable items vs. non-recyclable (waste only) items.
It is becoming more common for our customers to request these audit services. Offices, in particular, are eager to know exactly what is being disposed of in both their waste and recycling containers. Influences from both government legislation and building operating standards have become sustainably-minded over the past decade, and proper recycling is the first and most important step for a business to achieve and maintain sustainability or to seek LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.
The Recycling Audit
In order to conduct the audit, the customer’s large 8-yard trash dumpster and smaller 2-yard recycling dumpster were removed from the site and brought to our facility with the contents still inside.
The recycling dumpster was dumped on to the open floor. Three ADS employees carefully sifted through the contents of the dumpster and separated it into a series of carts based on material type.
The materials found within were reported as follows:
- 55% by volume-plastic
- 30% by volume-paper
- 10% by volume-mixed metals (aluminum, steel)
- 5% by volume-contamination (mostly plastic bags/films & Styrofoam)
None of these findings were too shocking as ADS anticipated the bulk of the recyclable material used in an office building would be comprised of plastic containers and white paper.
The Waste Audit
Then our employees went on to sort through the 8 yard trash collection dumpster; the results of THIS survey proved to be quite shocking indeed!
Just as with the recycling portion of the audit, ADS employees sorted the contents of multiple bags of trash.
When they were finished, the audit revealed that 60% of the material thrown into the waste dumpster was recyclable!….Yet being disposed of as trash! What a waste!…..Literally!
“60% of the material thrown into the waste dumpster was recyclable!….Yet being disposed of as trash!”
Unfortunately, the findings of this audit are common to many office buildings across our area.
Once a recyclable is tossed in with the trash it will NEVER have the opportunity to regenerate new products or save energy and resources: it will instead be doomed for eternity in a landfill or incinerator.
The Take Away
It is clear that TOO MANY recyclables are being thrown away as trash and collected as waste. We hope audits like this one will shed light on the problem and give our customers (and the community) the information they need to understand that we ALL can help.
Simply by taking a moment to Think Before You Throw we can ensure that all recyclable items end up in the correct dumpster so they can be converted into new products and help keep our environment clean, green and sustainable!
Thanks for Reading!