What is Zero Waste?
Before we look at how to carry out a Waste Audit I think it would be useful to recap what the Zero Waste ethos is all about so we know what we’re trying to achieve.
The simple answer: The aim is to send nothing to a landfill. Refuse what you don’t want, reduce what you need, reuse as much as you can, send as little as possible to be recycled, and compost whatever you can’t.
The less simple answer: It’s really about redefining the system. We currently live in a linear economy where we take resources from the earth and then dump them in a giant hole in the ground. The goal of zero waste is to move to a circular economy where we write rubbish out of existence. The circular economy mimics nature in that there is no rubbish in nature.
Instead of discarding resources, we should be aiming to create a system where all resources can be resumed fully back into the system.
Zero Waste sounds like something that’s unachievable and in it’s truest sense it probably is; but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t all try.
The goal should be Zero Waste and every little thing we do to help achieve that is a step in the right direction. You can do as much or as little towards the Zero Waste Goal that works for you. It doesn’t have to be a radical change in your lifestyle, but obviously the more you change the more it will help to make a difference.
Where Does All Our waste Go?
According to official Government statistics, the UK produces 200 million tonnes of waste every year. This is total waste for households and Business with around half generated by households, the amount that is sent to landfill is just over 26%.
The UK has, in recent years, exported a lot of non-recyclable waste to Europe – more than 3m tonnes in 2016 – where it is used as fuel to generate heat and electricity in specialist Energy-from-Waste (EfW) power plants.
England now has 7 years left of non-hazardous landfill life, based on 2016 inputs, according to the Environment Agency.
England landfilled a total of 44.7 million tonnes in 2016 and managed a total of 203 million tonnes of waste. That’s a lot of waste.
How to Start Your Zero Waste Journey with a Waste Audit
Once you’ve decided to start your Zero Waste Journey it can be a bit daunting knowing where to start.
The main priority of your Zero Waste Journey should be to minimise the amount of rubbish that you send to landfill. Therefore, a great place to start is with a Waste Audit.
A Waste Audit will help you identify what you’re sending to landfill and once you know exactly what you’re dealing with, you can come up with a plan to stop it.
How to Do A Waste Audit
- Choose how long a period of time you are going to carry out the waste audit over, I think a week is just about right.
- Decide how you are going to record your waste. You can download my free Waste Audit printable.
- Every time you throw a piece of rubbish into your general waste /landfill bin record it (see how I do it on my waste audit sheet)
- At the end of your audit sit down and look at what’s on your list and start thinking of ways you can reduce your rubbish. It might be that one of the items on your list is crisp packets. If that’s the case you may decide to stop eating crisps. Or, it might be empty toothpaste tubes, which can’t be recycled, so you might decide to switch to plastic free toothpaste.
- Implement your changes and after they’ve been in place for a few months it’s always useful to carry out another Waste Audit just to check your progress and make sure you’re on track.
Once you’re happy that you’ve reduced your landfill waste by as much as you can you may want to move onto a Waste Audit of your recycling and see if you can make any changes to that. This is especially important if you have a lot of plastic in your recycling as unlike glass, plastic can only be downcycled.
So, now you know how to carry out a Waste Audit.
I hope you found this useful and I’d love to hear all about the results of your Waste Audits and the solutions you come up with.