The purpose of this section is to provide an overview of the waste management system on-campus. This entails describing the various actors, components and relationships implied in waste management. This analysis is useful as it provides both a solid general background of waste management on-campus and outlines the origins of the various costs and revenues discussed in this report.

4.1 Waste Management System Overview

Before providing a detailed description of the waste management system on-campus, a brief consideration of the waste management process is helpful. It can be broken down into five distinct phases. They are:

  1. Generation
  2. Sorting
  3. Collection
  4. Hauling
  5. Landfilling/Milling

Before waste can be managed it must be generated by individuals or by administration, once waste has been generated it must be sorted. At the individual level sorting is simply choosing to dispose of white paper, for example, in either the recycling or waste bin. Once waste has been sorted it is collected, often placed in large receptacles which the hauler then picks up. In the case of recyclables the hauler takes the material to recycling mills, in the case of landfill-bound waste the hauler transports the material to the landfill for burial.

Each of these phases involves one or more system components. The waste management system on-campus has nine basic components, some more directly involved in the process than others. The frontline players include Plant Operations, the Waste Management Coordinator, haulers of recyclables, haulers of landfillables, the Landfill and the Recycling Mills. Also included in the waste management system is the Central Administration, the Individual, and the Faculties. Each of these system components are discussed in greater detail in the following section.

4.2 Detailed System Description

The following system description is intended to be a very general outline of system components and relationships as they relate specifically to waste management on-campus. Many of the components included in this system have functions beyond the bounds of the waste management system. These functions are not mentioned below.

A second note to keep in mind as the following section is considered: two, not one, systems are described. The waste management system as it is currently set up, and the waste management system as it would look if a partial decentralization scheme was adopted. The descriptions first outline the current system and then, if any changes take place, the decentralized system is described.


The individual plays a pivotal role in the waste management system on-campus. They are the most basic unit of waste generation and waste sorting in the system. Based on the choices made at the individual level, recyclables are either diverted from or sent to landfill. In the current system this choice is left almost exclusively to the individual consciences of each member of the campus community. In the case of a decentralized system, dynamics are put in place that would enhance any desire an individual might have to make the sustainable choice.

Faculty/University Department

The current waste management role of faculties and the university departments lies squarely in the waste generation phase. The faculties and university departments are the administrative reference point for most work performed, and consequently of waste produced, on-campus. Once waste is generated it becomes, administratively, the exclusive domain of Plant Operations and the Waste Management Coordinator. Should a decentralized waste management scheme be adopted, faculties would become much more involved. They would be given a waste management budget allotment by Plant Operations, be invoiced for waste management services rendered and allowed to keep as discretionary funds any savings achieved by recycling efforts. Given this incentive, faculties may develop their own internal initiatives designed to more effectively capture recyclables before they enter the landfill-bound waste stream. As a result faculties would become involved in not only the generation, but the sorting, hauling and landfilling/milling waste management phases.

Waste Management Coordinator

The Coordinator is responsible for providing information on all aspects of the recycling program to all members of the campus community. Through this effort, the Coordinator addresses a directive from central administration to help reduce the universities waste flows. This function addresses both generation and sorting phases of waste management. In support of this function, the waste management coordinator keeps detailed records on all aspects of the university waste management system. These records were relied upon heavily while preparing this report. In a partially decentralized waste management system, the role of the waste management coordinator would likely be more central and direct. The waste management coordinator would be a natural choice for overseeing the decentralization scheme or lottery that might be adopted.

Plant Operations

The role of plant operations in the waste management system on campus includes the negotiation of hauler contracts, overseeing janitorial services and ensuring collection infrastructures are in place. They, are, as a result, directly involved with the sorting, collection and hauling phases of the waste management system. They help ensure that the university has its waste management needs met at the lowest possible cost. In the case of a partially decentralized waste management system the role of plant operations, in collaboration with the waste management coordinator, would expand to include distributing waste budget allotments to the various faculties and departments on-campus, invoicing them for waste management services rendered, and collecting fees for these services. If a waste management lottery of some form is adopted instead, as discussed elsewhere in this report, Plant Operations and the Waste Management Coordinator may well assume responsibility for administering this lottery.

Landfill Haulers

The landfill haulers move the landfill bound waste from campus to the landfill. As the name implies their role is limited to the hauling phase of waste after it has been sorted and collected. There is a service charge for this, negotiated by Plant Operations. This service charge is over and above the tipping fees levied against the university by the landfill.

Recycling Haulers

There are three separate hauling arrangements for recyclables on-campus. One covers newsprint, cans and glass, a second deals with corrugated cardboard collection and the third white paper. The haulers ship the recyclables generated by the university to recycling mills. For this service the university is charged a flat fee assuming a certain volume of collection. The white paper hauler is an exception however. They levy no charge for collection, they, instead, collect a percentage of the mill price for paper. As can be seen, the haulers are only involved with the hauling phase of waste management on-campus.


The landfill is the final destination of all landfill-bound waste. This, plus the fact that the landfill charges tipping fees (and GST) on all waste received, marks the extent of the landfill's role in the University of Waterloo's waste management system. It marks the landfilling half of the last waste management phase.

Recycling Mills

The recycling mills are the buyers of all recycled materials collected by the recycling haulers. They mark the milling half of the last waste management phase. The recycling mills are responsible for setting the mill price of each of the materials in the recycling stream. These mill prices are the basis of any revenue recyclables generate. Currently these revenues are collected by the central administration of the university. Two of the partial decentralization schemes would redirect these revenues to the faculties instead as part of an incentive program.

Central Administration

The Central Administration has a very limited role in the direct management of waste on-campus, but it is felt by all other aspects of the system. The central administration frames all activity on campus, and as a result, directs in a sense, all waste generation. In addition to this, in compliance with provincial guidelines, they have issued a directive indicating that the campus will reduce its waste flow by half between 1987 and the year 2000. The entire waste management machinery has been mobilized to achieve this goal. Central administration is also involved with the financing of waste management. They provide plant operations with operating budgets and collect all revenues on recycling.

4.3 Comparing the two Waste Management Systems

Because two systems are discussed in this report, we felt it might be useful to provide a brief comparison. The primary difference between the two systems is the degree of two way interaction between the faculties, plant operations, the waste management coordinator, and the individual. In the current case, as described in the section before, faculties have virtually no contact with any components of the waste management system. Further, communication is more one way than two way.

In the partial decentralization scheme the faculties are almost the centre of activity, the decentralization scheme allows for much greater interaction between the individual, the faculty and the waste management coordinator. The decentralized scheme also provides significantly greater reinforcement of any waste management directive that might be issued. Directives on performance targets are sent from the central administration to both plant operations and the waste management coordinator. These directives set up a dialogue between these system components and the faculties. This dialogue is in turn reinforced in directives sent directly from the central administration to the faculties. Further, the individual is then involved by both the waste management coordinator and the faculty. The degree of involvement and reinforcement within the decentralized system will likely provide a more comprehensive and expeditious response to waste management directives than that allowed by the current system. It is because of this inherent advantage that the present report is being drafted.

Last updated April 21, 1996. das