Trash Audit

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Trash Audit Experiment

Goals of Experiment

  • No waste - minimize trash; maximize recyclables & compost
  • Reduce recyclables
  • Determine if materials are being placed in the correct stream

Decisions to be made from Experiment

  • Purchase packages for remaining waste
  • Define interim goals for reduction of recyclables based on baseline benchmark
  • Confirm if we have the effective and correct processes for recyclables

Expected Outcomes

  • Reduced amount of trash over time
  • Reduced amount of recyclables over time



  • Compost - weeds, leaves, fruit, vegetables, tea bags, coffee grounds, etc. (no protein, no dairy)
  • Recyclables - Service comes once a week (Wednesday)
    • Sorted into bins
      • Plastic
      • Metal
      • Cardboard
      • Glass
      • Styrofoam
      • Mixed Paper - periodically bag up and include in recycle area; keep dry in plastic bags
    • Picked up by recycling service
  • Regular trash service determined by Green Garage Services; see Trash Tracker
  • Trash Audits monthly to start, then less often
  • GG Services receives audit report and implements improvements as necessary

Process Measurements

  • Audit trash container & bins for appropriate content
    • GG Services retrieves trash and recyclables from remote locations
    • GG Labs receive trash from GG Services
    • Weigh trash; take photos
    • Dump trash on tarp; take photos
    • Sort trash on tarp; take photos
    • Photograph and video process and contents, especially for things not in the correct stream or not in the right condition to qualify for that stream
    • Repeat for each recyclable stream
    • Document results
    • Report results
  • Measure each stream by weight; lbs
  • Highlight improper usage; clear up misunderstanding
  • Put info above each bin for % done correctly also (positive reinforcement)
  • Document in online workbook
  • Report results of each audit
  • Develop goals to reduce trash over time from baseline (after Beta period)
  • Trend improper usage and use info to educate occupants (work with GG Services)
  • Produce Annual Report on results and progress towards goals

Resources Required

  • Scale - Joe fixed
  • Tarp - Peggy
  • Rubber gloves - Peggy getting 3 more
  • Clothes pins for nose - done; in library
  • Online tracking document - Laurie


  • Audits will be Hands-On Activity for Labs Session


  • GG Services - implement improvements as necessary after audit
  • USL - media

Help Wanted

  • Open to All

Scheduling & Sequencing

  • First audit, 11/4/2011 during Labs Session
  • Then monthly audits unannounced until stabilized results
  • Quarterly audits unannounced after that



  • How will paper be handled when open? Answer: Paper is part of recycling package. Will observe and put additional bins in for paper as needed.


  • Plan / Do / Study / Act / Repeat
  • Make sure scale is operational - DONE
  • Develop record keeping and reporting - DONE