Waste Metering | 01.27.21

Hear it from Apple: “We were overestimating waste.”

by compology

Waste Metering | 01.27.21

Hear it from Apple: “We were overestimating waste.”

by compology

Hear it from Apple: “We were overestimating waste.”

We were overestimating waste. Before we optimized waste measurement from our monitoring systems, our estimates assumed that bins were full each time they were emptied, leading us to overestimate waste by as much as 50 percent. We also found that products often ended up in the wrong bins. We used this information to better target our efforts and raise employee awareness.

APPLE’S 2020 ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRESS REPORT

Nearly every Fortune 1000 company is developing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or Sustainability goals tied to waste reduction and diversion from landfills. 

Until now, these companies have been reporting on waste and diversion rates using a longstanding, straight-forward, yet flawed, equation: total number of pickups multiplied by the size of the dumpsters being serviced equals their total waste and recycling output.

While this methodology is simple to implement, the primary issue with this equation is that it’s highly inaccurate.

Why? It assumes that all dumpsters are 100% full at pickup.

While this type of assumption may have made sense when waste and recycling oversight was difficult at scale due to limited vendor transparency and data sharing, the more recent proliferation of remote dumpster monitoring technology and readily accessible waste and recycling data, at scale, makes inaccurate reporting not only irresponsible, but also costly. 

Eighty million Compology data points reveal that dumpsters are actually serviced at an average of 46 percent fullness (not 100 percent), meaning reporting on waste production and diversion rates using the industry standard, to date, has been inaccurate by more than half!

In fact, Apple Inc., an industry pioneer in sustainability and environmental responsibility, confirms in their 2020 Environmental Progress Report this is true for them, too! By monitoring their waste, they’ve identified they are not generating as much waste as they’ve been reporting, overestimating waste production by as much as 50 percent!

Apple focuses their environmental work in three interconnected areas—climate change, resources and smarter chemistry—driving their mission to “make products without taking from the earth.” Specifically, in 2018, Apple launched their commitment to send zero waste to landfill for their offices, retail stores, and data centers.

We’ve installed remote waste monitoring systems to accurately measure waste generation and contamination.

APPLE’S 2020 ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRESS REPORT

Compology’s waste meteringTM technology is helping Apple automate and standardize accurate waste output measurement to 1) improve waste, recycling and diversion reporting with readily available, reliable data 2) reduce hauling costs by reducing service levels to actual waste production and identifying and getting credit for missed pickups, and 3) reduce contamination and incorrect disposal in each dumpster as it happens to improve recycling rates, reduce contamination fines and educate employees about recycling best practices.

In other words, Compology’s waste metering technology equips Apple with accurate, data-driven proof that they’re producing less waste than previously believed—a huge win for their operations, procurement and sustainability teams alike!  

“Imagine making investment decisions with financial data that was inaccurate by 50 percent,” says Jason Gates, CEO of Compology. “The industry is ripe for standardized data collection and reporting methodologies to meet business needs and the EPA’s new, aggressive national recycling goals. We’re thrilled Apple, McDonald’s and other leading brands are exposing the vast opportunity to meter waste for automated, accurate waste production measurement and transparent reporting to shareholders and consumers.”

We were overestimating waste. Before we optimized waste measurement from our monitoring systems, our estimates assumed that bins were full each time they were emptied, leading us to overestimate waste by as much as 50 percent. We also found that products often ended up in the wrong bins. We used this information to better target our efforts and raise employee awareness.

APPLE’S 2020 ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRESS REPORT

Nearly every Fortune 1000 company is developing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or Sustainability goals tied to waste reduction and diversion from landfills. 

Until now, these companies have been reporting on waste and diversion rates using a longstanding, straight-forward, yet flawed, equation: total number of pickups multiplied by the size of the dumpsters being serviced equals their total waste and recycling output.

While this methodology is simple to implement, the primary issue with this equation is that it’s highly inaccurate.

Why? It assumes that all dumpsters are 100% full at pickup.

While this type of assumption may have made sense when waste and recycling oversight was difficult at scale due to limited vendor transparency and data sharing, the more recent proliferation of remote dumpster monitoring technology and readily accessible waste and recycling data, at scale, makes inaccurate reporting not only irresponsible, but also costly. 

Eighty million Compology data points reveal that dumpsters are actually serviced at an average of 46 percent fullness (not 100 percent), meaning reporting on waste production and diversion rates using the industry standard, to date, has been inaccurate by more than half!

In fact, Apple Inc., an industry pioneer in sustainability and environmental responsibility, confirms in their 2020 Environmental Progress Report this is true for them, too! By monitoring their waste, they’ve identified they are not generating as much waste as they’ve been reporting, overestimating waste production by as much as 50 percent!

Apple focuses their environmental work in three interconnected areas—climate change, resources and smarter chemistry—driving their mission to “make products without taking from the earth.” Specifically, in 2018, Apple launched their commitment to send zero waste to landfill for their offices, retail stores, and data centers.

We’ve installed remote waste monitoring systems to accurately measure waste generation and contamination.

APPLE’S 2020 ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRESS REPORT

Compology’s waste meteringTM technology is helping Apple automate and standardize accurate waste output measurement to 1) improve waste, recycling and diversion reporting with readily available, reliable data 2) reduce hauling costs by reducing service levels to actual waste production and identifying and getting credit for missed pickups, and 3) reduce contamination and incorrect disposal in each dumpster as it happens to improve recycling rates, reduce contamination fines and educate employees about recycling best practices.

In other words, Compology’s waste metering technology equips Apple with accurate, data-driven proof that they’re producing less waste than previously believed—a huge win for their operations, procurement and sustainability teams alike!  

“Imagine making investment decisions with financial data that was inaccurate by 50 percent,” says Jason Gates, CEO of Compology. “The industry is ripe for standardized data collection and reporting methodologies to meet business needs and the EPA’s new, aggressive national recycling goals. We’re thrilled Apple, McDonald’s and other leading brands are exposing the vast opportunity to meter waste for automated, accurate waste production measurement and transparent reporting to shareholders and consumers.”

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