How to Perform a Waste Audit for Your Spa

Garbage segregation. Waste separate, classification and recycling concept. Colored dustbin or trash cans for each type - organic, metal, paper, plastic, glass, e-waste and other.
By Pictulandra -

It is no secret that the waste we generate has an impact on our environment and the people who work with us. When it comes to waste management practices, the heart of your program lies in the measurement part.

Conducting a waste audit is the only way of knowing what makes up your spa’s waste profile. When we think about waste, we often think that it is all deposited in a landfill. The reality is that there are different types of waste, and each has a unique impact and point of disposal.

A waste audit will also reveal if your current waste management strategies are effective. You’ll see opportunities to reevaluate your procurement strategy and buy less of what’s being wasted, as well as identify valuable recyclables that can be sold (saving you money).

Regular audits provide a benchmark for future improvements and, importantly, demonstrate to clients and employees that your business is serious about reducing waste.

Waste Audit Prep

The following waste audit procedure is what I recommend to all my clients. It should be conducted on a quarterly basis.

  1. Choose a waste management team to conduct the audit.
  2. Gather all your audit equipment in advance. This will include protective equipment (the team will be physically sorting through waste and must be protected from sharp objects and possible exposure to harmful substances), labels, permanent markers, weighing scale or measuring tape, clear garbage bags, large plastic sheets, containers, tongs, first-aid kit and an audit sheet.
  3. Select an appropriate area where the sorting of waste can be done on a large plastic sheet without interference from wind or other people.
  4. Make sure that your audit reports are reviewed by your green team or administration department to help determine the major waste streams that you generate, find reduction and recycling opportunities, and address issues that can help improve your waste management objectives.

To get a comprehensive picture of your waste, request your cleaning staff to collect and set aside waste gathered over the course of a few days with the bags properly marked with the types of waste in them (if collected from specially designated bins) and where (which department or section) the waste originated

Waste Audit Methodology

The actual waste audit is conducted based on the following methodology:

Step 1: Set out your waste. Place the selected waste on an open plastic sheet (that you re-use in future audits).

Step 2: Measure the volume of the total waste. The pile will most likely not be entirely regular, so you’ll want to record the average length, width and height of the pile using a tape measure. Weigh the waste if a big enough scale is available.

Step 3: Create an audit sheet noting all the different types of materials present e.g., paper, plastic packaging, cotton wool, earbuds, cans, chemical containers, food scraps, etc. Categorize them under their waste types, namely compostable, recyclable, hazardous and general waste. The same audit sheet should then be used for all audits going forward.

Step 4: Using the same audit sheet, make a note of the number of days over which waste was collected. This time span should be adhered to for all audits.

Step 5: Estimate the composition by volume and percentage for each material present, and then aggregate the figures, where necessary, to reflect the composition and volume for each waste type.

Your audit sheet will provide to you an analysis of your waste; it can look like this, for example:

  • Recyclable Waste - 45%
  • Compostable Waste - 10%
  • General Waste - 15%
  • Hazardous Waste - 30%

Ultimately, using the example above, this intelligence generated by your waste audit will reveal that:

  • Recoverable (i.e., compostable or recyclable) materials form the greatest part of the waste, which presents a significant cost-saving opportunity.
  • Hazardous waste (which should all have originated from the designated hazardous waste receptacles) present opportunity for reduction.
  • The reduction in waste between the two most recent audits may then suggest that more effort can be made to reduce waste, most likely with respect to packaging.
  • More effort can be made to purchase products that come with minimal packaging.

Charne le Roux, founder of Greenspa.Africa, opened the first dedicated organic spa in South Africa and is an accredited professional of the Green Building Council of South Africa. Through her leadership and guidance, Greenspa.Africa connects sustainable spas in Africa and helps them implement green business practices. A regular speaker at conferences and trainings, le Roux is also the author of Green Spa Guide and the creator of the Sustainable Spa Practitioner Course.

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