Waste Audit


Hello runners and sports enthusiasts! To remain competitive in today’s business and community organizations, reviewing purchasing and disposal practices through a waste audit can significantly improve your operations and productivity. It allows you to evaluate baseline data of your waste reduction and recycling programs, and is also important to recognize where waste can be eliminated through structural changes in purchasing and procedure. 


Most of what we consume ends up in the waste system within months, weeks, or even minutes after consumption. The United States sends approximately 250 million tons of solid waste to landfills each year. Reducing waste, re-using what can be used a second time, and then recycling properly, is not only good for the environment, but can also save money. Making a new product requires a lot of time and energy from raw materials being taken from the earth, the resources it takes to make the products, and the fuel that it uses to be transported and sold to the consumer. Waste reduction is one of the most effective ways you can save resources and money. Benefits of reducing waste from special events include: 

  • Meeting community expectations.
  • Making events appealing to sponsors with the same priorities.
  • Encouraging positive changes with vendors and running participants.
  • Reducing contamination in recycling and waste streams.
  • Increasing community support for environmental justice.
  • Reducing event costs. 

Who Do I Contact? 

If you have questions about performing a waste audit, you can contact your local city or county jurisdiction for recycling and waste assistance. Most cities and counties have solid waste and recycling teams that answer questions from community members, offer resources, and provide technical assistance with facilitation of the waste audit and reporting waste assessments.

Doing a waste audit involves many people and stakeholders at an event, because depending on where these waste containers are placed, they may have different percentages of contents. 

Conduct a Pre-Event Walk-Through

Identify Stakeholders: Property Owners, Sponsors, City Staff, Vendors, Volunteers and Attendees.

  1. Observe the types and amounts of waste that may be produced. 
  2. Identify waste-producing or waste-reducing activities.
  3. Account for all garbage and recycling collection equipment (where are the bins/dumpsters located?)
  4. Map the path that waste moves through the running event. Where does it start? How does it get to the trash or recycling?
  5. Observe and notice current recycling and waste prevention educational efforts. 

Health and Safety During a Waste Sort 

Develop and health and safety plan! Identify the potential risks affiliated with:

  1. First Aid station waste
  2. Food and drink items 
  3. Broken glass and sharp objects like bottles, jagged plastic, and mile-marker stakes. 

Communication is crucial to ensure each member of the sort team understands the procedures and potential hazards. Be sure to know the procedure for obtaining medical assistance, and the locations of first aid kits. 

Think about the safest location, and time of day (after each event day, or after the entire event?), to sort. Are there waste containers that should not be sorted, such as those containing medical waste, hazardous material, loose animal or human waste, or medical syringes?

See Recommended Supply List (provided by Washington County Solid Waste & Recycling)

  • Protective gloves
  • Tyvek suits
  • Safety glasses
  • Closed-toed shoes
  • High visibility safety vest
  • Dusk masks
  • Health and safety plan
  • First aid kit 
  • Tarps
  • Sorting bins 
  • Scale 
  • Garbage bags
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Camera
  • Sort category glossary
  • Notepad
  • Pens/pencils
  • Data sheet 
  • Clipboard
  • Team contact list 
  • Hand Sanitizer 

Plan the Waste Sort!

Determine sort categories and prepare the data sheets. Set out your material and begin sorting. A sample running event specific sheet is provided at the bottom of this document.  

Here’s a form (link). * https://www.co.washington.or.us/hhs/swr/upload/waste-assessment-guide-final.pdf

*Washington Count also offers free assistance if in Washington County 

There are business teams like us that do this in other cities. 

Portland State CES will do waste audits as well.

Here’s more:.  

“8 Steps to Improve Your Event Waste Audit”  https://www.eventmanagerblog.com/waste-audit-how-to

“How to Complete a Waste Audit in 5 Easy Steps”