Solid Waste & Recycling


A Standard Waste Audit Method

In February, Solid Waste & Recycling wrote about a new waste diversion certification program recently introduced by the Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) called 3RCertified. As 3RCertified rolls out to the industrial, commercial and...

In February, Solid Waste & Recycling wrote about a new waste diversion certification program recently introduced by the Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) called 3RCertified. As 3RCertified rolls out to the industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) community across Ontario, the timing is perfect to examine a key element of the program and how this element can change the face of solid waste auditing, making 3RCertified the standard by which all sustainably-driven organizations will want to be measured.

The Ontario Waste Auditor Training (OWAT) and the Accredited Waste Auditor (AWA) program have been developed as part of the 3RCertified™ program, with support and sole funding from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to standardize waste audit practices and performance measurement.

Until now, there was no standard method for conducting waste audits. Without a standard, results can often be unreliable.

RCO, through review of waste audit methodologies used worldwide, and in consultation with regulatory authorities and industry experts, developed the Standard Waste Audit Method — the backbone of the training and accreditation program. In addition, completion of a waste audit to the Standard Waste Audit Method is mandatory under 3RCertified and applicants achieve more points for using an AWA to conduct the waste audit.

In Ontario, designated generators of solid waste are required to conduct waste audits and develop waste reduction work plans under O. Reg. 102/94. IC&I generators use waste audits not only to meet compliance requirements, but as an effective tool to improve profitability through better management of materials.

Decision-makers in the IC&I sector have lacked a mechanism to confirm Waste Auditor credentials, leading to confusion in the marketplace in this fast-growing field. Waste Auditors can now be independently verified and recognized as Accredited Waste Auditors (AWA).

OWAT, as the cornerstone training program for Accredited Waste Auditors, launched in May 2012 and immediately created a groundswell of demand from all quarters. Three training sessions have already been completed and more are scheduled for regions across Ontario moving into the second half of this year as demand grows here at home and across Canada.

The training course is based on the Standard Waste Audit Method and focuses on auditing principles, sampling methods, benchmarking and data analysis, and accurate methods of measuring and reporting performance. This standard has attracted interest from participants from diverse backgrounds: seasoned professional waste auditors; recent BES university graduates; waste haulers and processors and IC&I waste generators including manufacturers, hospitals and retail chains.

So what happens inside the classroom?

The training is a combination of lectures and workshops where students work on case studies and create audit plans and develop/practice auditing skills through table-top scenarios and role-play exercises. Students learn about modern methods of performance measurement — methods of calculating waste reduction and realistic indicators of effective source separation programs (overall capture rate) — topics which have not been explored in the IC&I sector until now. Students apply the audit findings into compliant and effective waste reduction work plans which focus on waste reduction and reuse as the first two priorities.

In turn, this leads to vigorous exchanges of information in a neutral and accepting environment where students can learn about the variety of scenarios that can be encountered in the field of waste auditing across a diverse IC&I sector. The course ends with students completing a written exam. 

Once students successfully complete the two-day course and pass the exam, they can choose to apply for third-party verification and recognition of their waste auditing skills. RCO, as the independent, outcomes-based organization, will accredit waste auditors based on a combination of requirements including experience and education. Auditors can be accredited at one of three levels:  AWA (Provisional); AWA (Accredited); and, AWA (Lead).

AWAs maintain their certification with RCO by proving professional development and competencies, including experience conducting audits using the Standard Waste Audit Methodology and adhering to the RCO AWA Code of Ethics which demands a consistently high degree of integrity, objectivity, accurate evidence-based approach, diligence in safety and environmental protection, confidentiality and professionalism.

The AWA designation may only be used by individuals who have successfully completed the OWAT course, proven competency requirements to the RCO and kept skills up to date by regular reporting on their professional development.

Response to the launch of the RCO auditor training and accreditation program has reinforced the need across industry for reliable, high quality standards to govern waste auditing and reporting practices.

Need to find an accredited Waste Auditor? The “graduates” from the inaugural training session will soon receive their results and move to apply for AWA status. AWA’s in good standing will be listed on a roster on the RCO and 3RCertified websites: and

Jessica Wilkinson, EP(CEA) is the Lead Instructor and Technical Manager for the RCO’s 3RCertified™ Program. Contact Jessica at

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