This is the first in our Sustainability in Secondhand series which focuses on topics in sustainability that are relevant to the industry and how to integrate initiatives into your organization.
A discard analysis, also known as a waste audit, is a systematic approach to identifying, categorizing, and analyzing what is really ending up in the garbage.
A discard analysis will help make your operations more efficient, identify patterns, and reduce costs.
Data Improves Performance
One organization found that at any given retail location, 30-50% of the trash’s volume consisted of unbroken cardboard boxes. With just this little bit of information the organization is now able to redirect the cardboard to the correct recycling channels and save thousands of dollars each month by reducing the number of compactor pickups.
Reducing Garbage is Good for the Planet
In the U.S. we most often send our garbage to landfills or incinerators, each of which have substantial emissions associated with this waste management.
Landfills handle the material by burying it in the ground. This results in the release of methane gas as organic material decomposes. Methane is 84 times more effective at trapping heat than its carbon dioxide counterpart, resulting in landfills being a huge contributor to climate change.
Incinerators burn trash and some facilities use this process to generate electricity. Incinerators generate harmful pollution posing a risk to human health in nearby communities as well as ocean ecosystems thousands of miles away. Burning trash releases dioxins, and while some dioxins are captured and filtered, the smallest dioxins are released into the air and are known carcinogens. These dioxins have been found in remote dolphin populations showing these toxins can travel thousands of miles and are being absorbed by the oceans.
Just a 5% decrease in garbage at secondhand retailers with 11 locations equates to 6,500 tons of carbon saved monthly. This is equivalent to powering the electricity for over 10,000 homes each year.
Recycling 1 ton of material is 48% cheaper than landfilling the same ton of material.
On average, secondhand retailers pay 5-8 cents per pound of garbage. That equates to millions of dollars spent on trash each year in the industry.
By implementing the recommendations provided by Upright Labs after a discard analysis, one organization was able to cut their garbage bill nearly in half.
Upright Labs is ready to roll up our sleeves and jump into some dumpsters to help your organization reduce costs and find more value in what is being thrown away!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, 30-minute consultation to support your organization’s sustainability initiatives.
Written by Jennifer Power, Sustainability Lead at Upright Labs.
Jennifer is a certified TRUE Zero Waste Advisor and has conducted hundreds of discard anlyses over the past five years resulting in over 100,000 pounds of material saved from landfills annually.