Waste Audit Solutions

unveiling the business case for waste audits: regulatory compliance and reporting

Christine Riddell
July 08, 2024
· 6 min read

In the evolving landscape of corporate responsibility and environmental sustainability, businesses increasingly recognize the importance of minimizing waste. In Ontario, where environmental regulations are stringent and sustainability is a growing priority, conducting annual waste audits has emerged as a critical practice across various sectors. But what exactly is the business case for waste audits, and why are they becoming indispensable for organizations? Let’s explore the reasons why waste audits are not only environmentally responsible but also economically beneficial for businesses operating in Ontario, Canada.

Understanding the Waste Audit Process

A waste audit is a systematic, 24-hour evaluation of the non-hazardous waste, recycling, and organic materials generated by a business location. The process can be broken down into three main stages: assessment, classification, and reporting. Our expert team will visit your business to evaluate current practices, classify waste materials by type, weight, and volume, and provide a detailed report.


Compliance with Regulations

Ontario boasts robust environmental regulations aimed at reducing waste generation and promoting diversion through recycling and composting. Businesses are required to comply with these regulations, including waste diversion targets and reporting obligations. Ontario’s waste management regulations are established under the authority of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) and the Waste Diversion Act (WDA). These regulations aim to reduce waste generation, promote recycling and composting, and ensure proper waste disposal to protect human health and the environment.

Waste Diversion Targets

The Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016, sets ambitious waste diversion targets for various sectors, including industrial, commercial, institutional, and residential. These targets mandate businesses to divert a certain percentage of their waste away from landfills through recycling, composting, or other diversion methods. For example, businesses may be required to achieve a target of diverting 70% of their waste by a specific deadline.

Reporting Obligations

Businesses operating in Ontario must report their waste generation and diversion efforts to regulatory authorities. One example is Ontario Regulation 102/94: Waste Audits and Waste Reduction Work Plans. O.Reg. 102/94 encourages businesses to reduce waste during operations, reuse materials fit for reuse or donations, and recycle anything leftover. This reporting typically includes detailed data on waste types and quantities generated, as well as information on recycling, composting, and other diversion activities. Reports must be submitted annually to demonstrate compliance with waste diversion targets and regulatory requirements.

Waste Auditing Requirements

Under Ontario’s waste management regulations, businesses are often required to conduct waste audits as part of their compliance obligations. Waste audits involve systematically assessing the composition and quantities of waste generated by a business. This process includes sorting and weighing waste streams, analyzing waste composition, and identifying opportunities for waste reduction and diversion.


Importance of Waste Audits for Compliance

Waste audits play a crucial role in helping businesses meet their regulatory obligations and demonstrate compliance with waste diversion targets. By conducting regular waste audits, businesses can accurately track waste generation, identify areas for improvement, and implement strategies to achieve waste reduction and diversion goals. This proactive approach not only helps businesses avoid penalties but also contributes to their environmental sustainability efforts and overall corporate sustainability initiatives.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Failure to comply with waste management regulations in Ontario can result in penalties, fines, and enforcement actions by regulatory authorities. Businesses found in violation of waste diversion targets or reporting requirements may face monetary penalties or other enforcement measures. Additionally, non-compliance can damage a business’ reputation and credibility, leading to negative consequences for its operations and relationships with stakeholders.

Is your business in compliance?

The 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Waste Audits

Since 1994, designated IC&I (Industrial, Commercial and Institutional) organizations in Ontario have been mandated to execute Waste Audits, Waste Reduction Work Plans, and Source Separation Programs. Pursuant to O.Reg. 102/94, regulated organizations are obligated to conduct these audits annually and report their outcomes to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), as well as to occupants/staff of the organizations.

The outcomes of the 3Rs waste audits are mandated to address the following components:

  • Quantity, characteristics, and composition of the waste generated across all departments.
  • The methodologies behind waste production, including pertinent management policies and practices.
  • Current waste management practices implemented within the organization.

Waste Reduction Work Plans – Who is Required to Comply?

Once the waste audit and analysis identifies the types of waste generated and their sources, a waste reduction work plan is developed to offer guidance on minimizing these waste streams. Waste reduction work plans are required to encompass the following elements:

  • Strategies for waste reduction, reuse, and recycling.
  • Assignment of responsibilities to individuals or teams for plan execution.
  • Establishment of a timeline for plan implementation.
  • Forecasts on the expected outcomes of waste reduction initiatives.

As part of the execution phase, the work plan must be communicated to all staff members, with a summary clearly displayed for easy reference. Additionally, the waste reduction work plan should be updated annually to reflect the business’ evolving needs. Those required to remain in compliance:

  • Retail shopping complexes with floor areas of >10,000m2
  • Class A, B or F hospitals under Ontario Reg 964
  • Schools with >350 students at a location or campus
  • Restaurants with gross annual sales of >$3,000,000
  • Office buildings with floor areas of >10,000m2
  • Hotels and motels with >75 units
  • Building construction projects with floor areas of >2,000m2
  • Building demolition projects with floor areas of >2,000m2
  • Manufacturing sites with 16,000 employee hours/month

Source Separation Programs – Who is Required to Comply?

A crucial aspect of the source separation program entails the provision of collection, handling, and storage facilities for all recyclable materials. Site management is tasked with making diligent efforts to encourage the utilization of the system and ensure that materials separated at the source are effective reused or recycled. Source separation programs are mandated to incorporate the following elements:

  • A communication strategy to raise awareness and promote the participation in the program.
  • Clear instructions for staff members on how to properly utilize the program.
  • Feedback mechanisms to track the quantity of materials diverted through the program.

Those who must comply:

  • IC&I establishments in municipalities with populations >5,000
  • Retail shopping complexes with floor areas of >10,000m2
  • Class A, B or F hospitals under Ontario Reg. 964
  • Schools with >350 students at a location or campus
  • Restaurants with annual gross sales of >$3,000,000
  • Office buildings with floor areas >10,000m2
  • Hotels and motels with >75 units
  • Multi-unit residential buildings with 6 or more units

The following IC&I sectors must remain in compliance regardless of their location:

  • Building construction projects with floor areas of >2,000m2
  • Building demolition projects with floor areas >2,000m2
  • Manufacturing sites with >16,000 employee hours per month


The significance of waste audits in Ontario’s business landscape cannot be overstated. By adhering to local regulations, achieving waste diversion targets, and ensuring accurate reporting, your organization can demonstrate environmental responsibility and reap economic benefits.

If you’re interested in streamlining your waste management processes and making a positive impact, contact our team of waste audit experts today!


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