CEWASTE experience of running audits during pandemic

Between March and the end of November 2020, 20 different types of CEWASTE pilot audits have been conducted at 13 different facilities by nine auditors. Pilot audits were run as part of the work package 4.2 to test the requirements and verification process previously developed by the project partners. Audits were performed in five European countries (Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland) and three facilities were audited outside Europe (Colombia, Rwanda and Turkey). Auditors came from different countries and included project partners as well as external auditors.

There were ten audits performed testing the CEWASTE pre-treatment requirements and three operators were audited against the final treatment requirements. Logistics requirements were tested at four facilities, while collection requirements were audited at three collection facilities. Due to the temporary closure of collection facilities some audits had to be cancelled. In order to get feedback on the applicability and feasibility of the collection related CEWASTE requirements, an additional questionnaire has been prepared and sent out to relevant Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) to verify the collection related requirements.

Due to the COVID restrictions some of the physical audits had also to be cancelled and instead virtual audits were organised. A total of 7 physical and 5 virtual audits took place. In one of the occasions the audit was partly physical and partly virtual: management requirements were verified in an online session, while technical requirements were checked on site.

Performing virtual audits proved to be a useful option in the verification process in times of pandemic. Experiences show that virtual audits work best when verifying compliance against the management related requirements. Testing the technical requirements can be implemented in a virtual audit with some limitations and physical audits proved to be more efficient here. The overall finding is that virtual audits need much more planning ahead, in addition unforeseen technical issues might need to be tackled and explanation of the complex auditing requirements in a virtual audit can be a challenge specially when language differences exist.

The findings of the audits show that most CEWASTE requirements are feasible and applicable in the real-life environment. Feedback from the auditors and comments of the audited facilities were gathered and consolidated by the project partners to adjust the requirements to the day-to-day operational practices. Pilot audits allowed testing auditing procedures and tools prepared by CEWASTE partners and the feedback from the auditors was used for improving these as well.

We would like to thank all the facilities audited for taking part in the process, sharing their internal practices and for their valuable inputs.

Please see a short overview of the audits here.

Project funding

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This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 820859.

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