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Conducting a visual waste audit in your school or centre

Using visual waste audits to promote waste education goals

The first step to reducing waste at your centre or school is to conduct an audit of all types of waste that currently leaves your site. Collecting information about your current waste procedures will help to identify the amount and types of waste sent to landfill and highlight potential opportunities for recovering resources and minimising waste. This audit should be done at least once a year to demonstrate your ongoing progress in minimising your waste. Something to celebrate!

A visual waste audit is a process designed to analyse the amount and types of waste generated by your centre or school. It provides the baseline data against which all waste minimisation progress can be measured in the future. This task can be done manually as described in this guide; however, check your local council’s website as some provide an online waste calculator.

A visual waste audit involves a visual inspection of external waste and recycling bins to determine how full they are when they are put out for collection. This allows you to estimate how much waste is generated over the number of weeks you operate in one year (e.g. 40 weeks).

The appendix contains visual waste data tables for:

  • general waste bins
  • mixed or commingled or recyclable bins
  • paper and/or cardboard recyclable bins
  • garden waste or food waste
  • other recoverable resources (e.g. Containers for Change, soft plastics, e-waste, batteries, print cartridges)

This document is part of the suite of free waste education resources at