United States
                         Environmental Protection
                        Solid Waste and
                        Emergency Response
January 1994
WasteWi$e Tip  Sheet    
Facility  Waste
What Is a Waste
Why Conduct a
Waste Assessment?
How Do Waste
Assessments Fit into
the WasteWise
A waste assessment is a systematic way to identify waste reduction oppor-
tunities. These actions include preventing waste, purchasing recycled and
reduced-waste products, and recycling and composting waste materials.  A
waste assessment can be as simple as a quick walk-through of your facil-
ity or as detailed as a complete review of all purchasing, materials use,
and disposal practices.  Although the complexity and comprehensiveness
of assessments vary, they generally include the following steps:
 Reviewing facility operations and waste generated.
 Identifying potential waste reduction options.
 Assessing the operational and economic feasibility of the most promis-
  ing options.

A waste assessment serves three basic purposes:
 It establishes a better understanding of current purchasing, waste gen-
  eration, and waste disposal practices.
 It identifies potential waste reduction options for evaluation.
 It establishes a baseline from which to measure the success of the
  waste reduction  program.
Many simple waste reduction actions, such as reducing paper consump-
tion and switching to reusable coffee mugs, can be implemented without
a waste assessment. Such an assessment, however, helps to identify
those actions that will have the greatest impact and cost savings.  It also
helps you document these savings, which can be  important in getting con-
tinued management support for your program.

EPA encourages WasteWise members to conduct some level of waste as-
sessment to assist in setting goals for waste prevention, recycling, and pur-
chasing or manufacturing recycled products. The complexity of this
assessment will depend on the number and type of facilities involved in
your waste reduction program, the overall goals of your program, the
amount of information you already have on waste-generating practices,
and the available resources for conducting an assessment.
                                                      Printed on paper that contains at least 50% recycled fiber.

 What Are the
 Different Types of
 Waste Assessments?
 How Does a Waste
 Assessment Help in
 Selecting and
 Implementing Waste
 Reduction Actions?
How Do I Get
What Additional
Information on
Waste Assessments
Is Available From
 There are several different types of assessment activities from which you
 can choose, depending on the scope of your assessment and overall waste
 reduction program. These include:

  Reviewing purchasing records for information such as products that
   could be purchased with recycled content and the amount spent annu-
   ally on single-use items that could be replaced with reusable alternatives.
  Conducting a facility walk-through, which can reveal important in-
   formation on operations,  such as the extent of current recycling and
   waste prevention practices.

  Performing a limited or facility-wide waste sort to provide de-
   tailed information  on  the individual components of a facility's waste.
 Each assessment method has strengths and weaknesses.  For a complete
 discussion of waste assessment approaches, refer to EPA's Business Guide
 for Reducing Solid Waste.

 Waste assessments can help you better understand what types of waste are
 generated at a facility, how they are generated, and how much waste
 and/or costs can be reduced by implementing specific waste reduction ac-
 tions.  This  information  can be very valuable in choosing the most feasi-
 ble and cost-effective actions and in determining what changes in
 purchasing practices or operations are necessary to successfully implement
 each action.

 Once you have narrowed down the options to those you plan to imple-
 ment, it will be important to involve all affected employees in making the
 necessary changes. Involving employees in the waste assessment is a first
 step in getting their support and input on the waste reduction program.
 Implementation can begin with a pilot program or a company-wide modifi-
 cation to current operating practices. The waste assessment can help you
 decide on an appropriate  pace for implementation.  The assessment also
 serves as a benchmark for gauging waste reduction progress in later years
 and ior identifying new waste reduction opportunities.
 EPA has developed a Business Guide for Reducing Solid Waste to assist
 companies in initiating a waste reduction program and conducting a facil-
 ity assessment. WasteWise hotline staff also are on hand to answer your
 questions. Call 800 EPAWISE (800 372-9473).  In addition, your Regional
 EPA, state, or local solid  waste agency may have additional resources  to
 help you get started.

 To order the following EPA document, call the EPA RCRA/Superfund Hot-
 line at 800 424-9346 or TDD 800  553-7672 for the hearing impaired.  For
 Washington, DC, and outside the  United States, call 703 412-9810 or TDD
 703 412-3323.

Business Guide for Reducing Solid  Waste (EPA530-K-92-004).
This is a comprehensive how-to  guide on assessing your facility's solid waste and
choosing cost-effective waste reduction actions.
                                                                  FACILITY WASTE ASSESSMENTS

Sources of Additional  Information
The KAB Guide to Waste in the Workplace, 1991.
Free. A small business' guide for auditing commercial
waste, identifying recyclables,  minimiz ng waste and
managing disposal costs.
    Keep America Beautiful, Inc.
    Mill River Plaza
    9 West Broad Street
    Stamford, CT 06902
    203 323-8987
Guide to Commercial and Institutional Recycling,
January,  1992. $10.00.  This guide explains how to
establish a waste reduction and recycling program,
including conducting a waste audit, employing an
eight-step approach to office recycling, and buying
recycled products.
    Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority
    25 South Charles Street
    Suite 2105
    Baltimore, MD 21201-3330
    410 333-2730
               WasteWise is a partnership between EPA and America's leading businesses.
               Participants set their own waste prevention, recycling, and recycled product
               purchasing goals  WasteWi$e supports company efforts through technical
               assistance  and recognition of  participants' successes.

               We are always looking for good sources of waste reduction information to share
               with companies.  To share your suggestions or for more information about any
               aspect of WasteWi$e,  call 800 EPAWISE (800 372-9473).
                                                                      FACILITY WASTE ASSESSMENTS