Key messages

  • The Health service waste audit guidelines will assist hospitals, health services and other health care organisations commission and conduct waste audits.

Waste audits provide a detailed analysis of waste composition, assess contamination rates and identify potential opportunities to improve waste management and reduce costs.

Previous audits have shown that up to 60 per cent of clinical waste consists of general waste or recyclable materials and that 45 per cent of general waste is recyclable.

Using the department's waste audit guidelines ensures that audit data is detailed enough to:

  • assess contamination in waste streams
  • characterise and quantify waste streams
  • identify waste diversion opportunities
  • identify source reduction opportunities
  • assess the effectiveness of waste management systems and identify ways to improve its efficiency.

Waste audits provide a baseline that can assist with trend reporting and benchmarking against other facilities.

Waste audits require initial investment but in most cases the implementation of the improvement opportunities will pay back the investment.

Visual waste assessments, while providing a generalised overview of waste, do not generate the data required to establish a benchmark, making it difficult to assess whether improvements to waste management systems have been achieved. The department therefore recommends that audits are conducted.

Waste audits deliver the most value if undertaken bi-annually and can be conducted by your waste contractor, or an independent waste auditor engaged directly by the health service.

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