REI counts waste-to-landfill from all of our owned and leased facilities, including waste generated in regular operations as well as waste from one-time / one-off projects such as new store construction and major remodels. In our largest facilities, we pay for waste-to-landfill based on its weight, which allows us to simply track our progress. However, for the majority of our facilities (our retail stores), our waste is not measured by weight. Our dumpsters are picked up whether they are full or empty.
In previous years, we used a detailed survey to estimate how full these dumpsters were across our many locations. This methodology, though relatively accurate, highlighted the challenges of the long-term use of this methodology to track our progress to our zero-waste aspiration. We see the simplest way of measuring our progress towards our aspiration as measuring the number of dumpsters we pay to dispose of, and we have updated our metrics for 2010 to reflect this direction.
We quantify waste in tons, using direct weights (from compactors, etc.) when possible, and industry density estimates when not. For standard “roll-off” dumpsters picked up on a regular schedule at our retail stores, and sometimes at our support facilities, we count the dumpster as full in volume regardless of its actual fill percentage, and then we convert this volume to tons using a standard density conversion. We also count the occasional additional pick-up that our stores call for at times of heavy volume.
This new methodology over-reports our actual waste-to-landfill for 2010 compared to previous years, but gives us a clear, simple methodology that aligns our reductions in waste with direct expense savings from reducing our landfill service. This change in methodology accounts for the reported increase in waste to landfill and the decrease in our overall diversion rate for 2010.