Largest Study of Global Commercial Building Waste Reveals 62% of “trash” is NOT trash

New Study Analyzes 170,000 pounds of waste from over 100 commercial buildings worldwide, providing insight into global waste trends.

NEW YORK--()--The largest and most comprehensive waste characterization study to date focused on commercial buildings has been published in The Journal of Solid Waste Technology and Management, providing an illustration of waste at the building level that was not available before. The study by Great Forest Inc., a leader in sustainable waste management consulting, offers insight into the amount and types of waste generated by buildings globally. It reveals surprising similarities and identifies where the opportunities are for buildings to make a big impact on waste diversion and control rising costs.

“The study shows that 62% of what most commercial buildings discard in the trash stream is actually divertable. This means that most businesses are paying to send more materials to the landfill than they need to. Another data point of note is that organics consistently make up 1/3 of the material that most buildings discard in the trash stream, even though those organic materials can be diverted through composting and other means,” says Liz Arrigo, Director of Sustainability Analytics, Great Forest, and co-author of the report.

The study utilizes data collected through waste audits conducted by Great Forest at over 100 buildings across the US and internationally, analyzing over 170,000 pounds of waste. Data was collected from buildings in the New York- New Jersey- Connecticut tri-state region, the Mid-Atlantic region, and Northern California. Other audits took place both within the contiguous U.S. and in the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Singapore and South Korea.

“This is the first time we have crunched the numbers and made the data public in this way. The result is a study that provides baseline building data that every business owner and manager should take note of as it reflects the general trend in building waste worldwide. With waste costs rising and waste reduction identified as central to a circular economy, businesses responding to climate change with ESG frameworks have to understand the waste they are generating,” says Anna Dengler, Senior Sustainability Advisor, Great Forest, and lead author of the report.

A leader in waste audits, Great Forest conducts hundreds of waste investigations every year. The insights provided in this study are interpreted through the lens of 30 years-worth of waste data that the company has accumulated through decades of waste consulting work.

Read the full press release, read a summary of findings.

About Great Forest

Established in 1989, Great Forest pioneered some of the first corporate sustainability programs in the country, and continues to innovate today, implementing efficient waste management programs for organizations to materially improve their environmental impact and finances for a more sustainable world. Clients include Fortune 500 companies in a wide range of industries including real estate and property management, high tech, pharmaceuticals, financial services, insurance, retail, hospitality and more.

Release Summary

Largest study of commercial building waste reveals 62% of “trash” is NOT trash. Analyzes 170,000 pounds of waste from 100+ buildings worldwide.

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