Environmental Information Exchange

Measuring and monitoring waste

The quantity of waste produced by an organisation can be difficult to measure.  Further, an organisation’s waste is less visible and often removed from site very early or late in the day making monitoring difficult.  However, knowing exact quantities of waste is not always required to begin planning improvement.  The following information helps improve the measuring and monitoring of waste.

Measuring and monitoring waste contracts
Landfill waste and recycling contracts are normally collected from an organisation by a third party.  Skips are weighed and amounts conveyed to an organisation via bills from the waste management company.  However, collection of sacks or smaller bins is not weighed nor recorded in detail by the waste management company.  In effect, an organisation is paying for the volume (or capacity) of the sacks / bins.  Therefore, any excess capacity needs to be reduced.

Below are some suggestions for measuring and monitoring collection of sacks and bins.

Sacks
Waste management services offering sack collection often use branded sacks and / or branded stickers to help identify and control collection.  The branded items have an associated cost and are procured in varying amounts.  Measurement of how many sacks are used over time is important as well as occasionally monitoring how full each sack is.  The more capacity used in each sack, the lower costs will be.

Bins
Waste management companies collect a range of bin sizes at a range of frequencies (usually once a week).  However, the charge remains regardless of the fullness of the bins.  Thus any empty space is waste bins has the same cost as any actual waste.  A good monitoring practice is to check the bins and adjust your waste contracts to the size that provides just enough capacity.

Measuring and monitoring other waste
Less formal or frequent waste management collection such as computer recycling, the reuse of redundant furniture, or the composting of food waste is very difficult to measure and monitor.  However, the following considerations will help improve procedures:

Regularly review all waste collections to ensure these are the most environmentally sound and economically viable options.