Dumpsters for Trash Blog


Is your waste management strategy rubbish? ISS can help.

How waste audits can save your organization time and money while upping your #ESG profile.

By Ashlee Adams

TRUE Zero Waste Advisor, Head of Sustainability Performance, North America

With growing environmental awareness and greater understanding of the long-term impacts of pollution on our planet, sustainability practices are becoming a key focus in today’s corporate asset management strategies. And while many companies have ambitious Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals, they’re no match for the sheer volume of waste produced each day in the U.S.

According to Verisk Maplesoft’s Waste Generation Index (WGI), the U.S. is the world’s top producer of waste, and one of the worst of any industrialized nation when it comes to managing its trash. The WGI captures per capita rates of municipal solid waste, plastic, food, and hazardous waste production, of which American citizens and companies are the largest contributors, generating 239 million tons while only accounting for 4% of the global population.

However, the growing waste problem is not America’s alone. It’s a global issue — an estimated 2.1 billion tons of waste issue that we generate each year!

But that’s enough trash talking humanity and its insatiable thirst for over consumption … let’s talk solutions and how ISS helps organizations reduce their carbon footprints while working towards achieving critical ESG goals.

Waste audits are the foundation on which smart waste management strategies are developed. Without understanding what’s in your garbage, there is no effective way to properly manage its disposal. 

The Audit

Part of the waste audit process is first identifying the types, volume, and disposal frequency of discarded materials to develop a comprehensive waste profile which then serves as the basis of the waste management strategy.

The first step of a waste audit involves conducting a detailed analysis of the refuse materials. This consists of thoroughly reviewing, documenting, weighing, and placing items into like categories for proper disposal. Upon reviewing and validating collected data, ISS provides clients with recommendations and expected cost savings based on its findings.

Uncovering your company’s specific waste profile is critical for developing an effective waste management strategy — one that will lead to significant long-term cost-saving opportunities and environmental benefits.  


Waste audits are the foundation on which smart waste management strategies are developed. Without understanding what’s in your garbage, there is no effective way to properly manage its disposal. 

The Benefits

Boosting Operational Effectiveness

Conducting a waste audit exposes what’s working and not working with your current waste management program and uncovers wasteful practices and breakdowns within the current process. This knowledge then enables you to adjust accordingly, boosting your operational efficiency while reducing costs through new programs, equipment, and increased recycling.

For instance, ISS conducted a waste audit on behalf of a financial services client to better understand contamination rates across general waste, dry mixed recycling, and non-confidential paper waste streams.

The audit revealed that general waste overall accounted for 33%; dry mixed recycling accounted for 32.6% overall, of which the pantries and common areas accounted for 50%, and food service areas and private rooms accounted for less than 10%; and finally, non-confidential paper accounted for 25% overall, of which pantries accounted for 80% and print rooms 7%.

By implementing corrective steps and new strategies, the financial services client was able to:

  • Reduce general waste contamination by 5% to 10% within the first three months.
  • Reduce dry mixed recycling in the pantry and common areas by 5% to 10% within the first three months.
  • Effectively increase paper recycling rates to nearly 100% and decrease contamination rates to 0% as both non-confidential and confidential paper are now shredded and recycled.

Unlocking New Saving Opportunities

Lockstep with maximizing your operational efficiency comes new operational savings and revenue streams. Through better understanding of your company’s unique waste profile, there is the potential to uncover overcharges, errors, or invalid fees within your waste invoices as well as new opportunities for reducing and/or re-directing what goes into your trash, leading to significant savings on waste hauling fees.

Meeting Regulatory and Compliance Standards

Each business sector has regulatory requirements when it comes to disposing of its waste. By conducting a waste audit, you gain critical insights supported by data to enable your decision making and compare your current waste management operations against regulatory and compliance standards to avoid potential fines.

The Impact

Today’s top talent expects more from their employers. They’re looking for organizations that speak to their career goals as well as their values. The next generation of leaders want companies that demonstrate corporate environmental responsibility and accountability.

Conducting a waste audit and streamlining processes to be more environmentally vigilant not only reduces your company’s environmental footprint by increasing diversions from landfills, decreasing carbon emissions, and reducing costs, it also positions the company as a progressive corporate leader that puts their environmental stewardship goals into action.

Now more than ever, companies need to take accountability for their environmental footprints and lead with action.


About the Author

Ashlee Adams

TRUE Zero Waste Advisor

Head of Sustainability Performance, North America

Contact Ashleemailto:ashlee.adams@us.issworld.com