To understand the life cycle of the Imprint, it was also necessary to comprehend what its underlying system is.

4.1 What is a System?

We defined a system as a hierarchical structure composed of elements that function together towards a common goal. The elements are interconnected and, because of this, have the ability to affect every other element of the system. If one element is removed from the system, the system will change. Any inefficient or ineffective elements either need to be removed or altered in order for the system to function better overall.

Waste originating from within the University of Waterloo campus can be looked upon as a system. Within this system, our group focused upon analyzing one sub-system, the Imprint newspaper.

4.2 The Imprint

The Imprint, also known as "The Voice of Reason", is the University of Waterloo student newspaper and has been in publication for sixteen years. The newspaper is issued every Friday, and revenue is generated mainly through advertisement sales (Tigert-Dumas, 1995). It is important to note that national advertisers are a main source of income for the Imprint. These advertisers usually purchase full pages in the newspaper which cost about $900 per run (Atwal, 1995) However, they are reluctant to advertise in a student newspaper if a certain student to paper ratio is not achieved (Zavitz, 1995). Undergraduate students also help fund it through a sum of $4.10 included in their fee statements. Although this money is refundable, students must take the time during the first three weeks of the term to go down to the Imprint office and ask for a refund in person.

The paper covers a broad range of issues and aspects such as sports, politics, education, religion, and arts. It informs the students, faculty and staff about issues pertaining to university life and provides a public forum for readers to express personal opinions and views.

A copy of the Imprint can be picked up in most buildings on the University of Waterloo campus and at various off-campus locations. It can also be read on the Internet at http://imprint.uwaterloo.ca.

4.3 Full Life of the Imprint

Figure 1 explains the full life cycle of an Imprint newspaper. It shows the five stages in the life cycle: A) Paper Production; B) Information Production; C) Printing; D) Distribution; and E) Disposal. These stages are explained in more detail following the diagram.

Figure 1: System Design of the Imprint Life Cycle

4.3.1 Paper Production

This stage in the life cycle of the Imprint is where pulp products become paper. The paper is produced by McClaren Paper Products in Hull, Québec, who purchases post-consumer fibre, rebleaches it and combines it with virgin material. Thus, Imprint newspapers are printed on recycled paper containing 30% post consumer waste and 70% virgin material (Lankton, 1995).

4.3.2 Information Production

The Imprint is run by three full-time staff: an Editor-in-Chief, a General Manager, and a Manager of Advertising Sales and Production who work with student reporters, writers, editors and photographers. These students volunteer their time and gain valuable experience while learning to compile the stories, articles, and advertisements that make up the newspaper. The information in the Imprint is compiled both on paper and on computers. (Atwal, 1995)

4.3.3 Printing

Once the final draft of the newspaper has been completed, the Imprint's staff sends the documents 85 kilometres to CanWeb Printing in Grimsby, Ontario, early Thursday afternoon (Atwal, 1995). In total, 12 000 copies of the Imprint are printed each week. CanWeb Printing delivers the newspapers in bundles of 50 copies to the Imprint office on Friday mornings as part of a larger delivery to the Kitchener-Waterloo area (Tigert-Dumas, 1995).

4.3.4 Distribution

Once delivered to the Imprint office on Fridays, the newspapers are circulated by van to on-campus and off-campus locations between the hours of 9:00 am and 12:00 pm. Two distributors employed by the Imprint office are in charge of the deliveries (Zavitz, 1995).

Imprints are delivered in the following quantities:

For a more detailed list of locations, please see Appendix B.

Please note: The total number of papers distributed adds up to 8 200 copies, which leaves 3 800 copies unaccounted for.

4.3.5 Disposal

Papers may be disposed of in several different ways depending upon the individual user. Current disposal methods of the Imprint include blue box recycling, remission to landfill sites, and others such as littering or burning. However, readers may not immediately dispose of the paper and may instead use it for other purposes including arts and crafts as well as packaging.

Throughout the week any Imprint newspapers taken from the drop-off locations in the building and left in other areas within the building are dealt with by the University of Waterloo custodial staff. Newspapers that are left neatly in a pile are not touched by the custodians. However, those that are scattered on table tops or on the floor, are picked up and placed in a bin that is most convenient for their busy schedule. This is usually a garbage bin (Connolly, 1995).

At the end of the week some copies of the Imprint may remain unread. These copies are picked up by the Imprint distributors when the newest Imprint edition is delivered and then taken to the Region of Waterloo Erb Street recycling depot.


Due to time constraints, we were unable to focus our study on all aspects of the life of the Imprint as presented previously. Although important, the production of paper and information and the printing process were not examined in detail thus allowing us to focus the study into a more manageable framework. Therefore, we set boundaries to the system which only included the distribution of the Imprint on the University of Waterloo campus and its subsequent disposal methods. Figure 2 shows the aspects of the system upon which we focused.

Figure 2: Study Boundaries

5.1 Site Selection

Because of time limitations, as well as the size of the campus, we decided to limit our study to four specific buildings on the University of Waterloo campus. In choosing the locations, we adhered to several criteria in order to adequately represent the full range of the campus population. The chosen buildings needed to reflect the various uses of the campus such as leisure and recreation, classroom, and residence. Keeping this in mind, the Campus Centre, the Engineering Lecture Hall, Village I, and the Graduate House were chosen for analysis in the study. The Campus Centre represents an area where students of all denominations meet to socialize and relax. The Engineering Lecture Hall was chosen because it is a classroom building where the greatest number of different faculties hold lectures (Schumm, 1995). The Village I residence was selected because it is inhabited by both male and female students from different years and faculties. The Graduate House, frequented mainly by graduate students who may be under-represented in the other buildings, was included in our study by special request from Patti Cook, of the Waste Management Office. Since the greatest variety of students are represented in these four different buildings, we were able to generalize our findings to the entire University of Waterloo student body.


6.1 Determining Quantities of Imprints

Each Friday, a consistent number of Imprints were delivered to each drop off location, unless otherwise requested. To determine the excess quantity of unused Imprints, our group recorded the number of newspapers delivered and the number that remained the following week. This counting was done over a three week period for the newspapers published the weeks of March 3, 10, and 17, 1995. More specifically, we looked at how many papers were dropped off at the four buildings that we focused on: the Campus Centre, the Engineering Lecture Hall, Village I, and the Graduate House. For each of these four buildings, the location of the drop-off points and the amount of newspapers delivered were determined.

Campus Centre
Twenty bundles were distributed within the Campus Centre on tabletops, in gray newspaper boxes, and in the Imprint Office. These bundles accounted for 1 000 newspapers.
Engineering Lecture Hall
Eight bundles were distributed within the Engineering Lecture Hall, four bundles to the upper lounge on the second floor and four bundles to the lower lounge on the first floor. These bundles accounted for 400 newspapers.
Village 1
Six bundles were distributed within the Village 1 cafeteria areas, three bundles to the Red Room and three bundles to the Green Room. These bundles accounted for 300 newspapers. Please note that no newspapers were delivered to the residential areas.
Grad House
One bundle was distributed to the Grad House accounting for 50 newspapers.

6.1.1 Counting Process

Once the delivery numbers were established, we focused on the number of copies which were unused by the readers. To distinguish a used Imprint from an unused one, we simply used visual observations [i.e. we "eye-balled" it (Kay, 1995)]. If a newspaper showed signs of wear such as crumpled or torn pages, or was lying open, it was considered used. According to this criterion, we established the number of newspapers which remained unused after a period of one week. The counts were completed each Thursday in the late afternoon to allow for a maximum usage period before the next edition of the paper was distributed.

6.2 Determining Disposal Methods

Surveys on readership and the disposal habits of readers were administered to people in our four study buildings at various times during the week. The disposal methods of Imprint readers were estimated from the results of the campus survey. A random sample of students were asked to state their disposal habits regarding the Imprint. Members of our group approached people within the buildings and asked them if they had a few minutes to answer a survey questionnaire. Following their approval, the respondents were handed a copy of the survey to fill out. For a sample of the questionnaire, please refer to Appendix A. In total, 200 people were surveyed: 100 in the Campus Center, 50 in the Village 1 cafeteria, and 50 in the Engineering Lecture Hall.

The means of disposal of the Imprints that were left behind on the campus were determined by interviewing the custodians, the Imprint distributors, and recycling depot staff.