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
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
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).
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,
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).
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:
- On Campus Deliveries:
- Total of 7 000 Imprints within 29 buildings
- Off Campus Deliveries:
- Total of 1 200 Imprints at 23 locations in Kitchener and Waterloo
For a more detailed list of locations, please see Appendix B.
The total number of papers distributed adds
up to 8 200 copies, which leaves 3 800 copies unaccounted for.
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
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
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
- 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
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
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.