7.0 FINDINGS

The findings resulting from the present investigation naturally organize themselves into three groups:

Each are presented below.

7.1 Waste Stream Composition

The single largest assumption made by the authors was that recycleables are present in the landfill-bound waste stream. If this was not the case, there would be no prospect of either earning or saving money by diverting recyclables from the waste stream. However, as indicated in Chart 1, the assumption was well grounded. Based on a 1992 visual waste audit, the University of Waterloo sends approximately 60% more than it should to landfill.

Source: White, 1992, pg. 12

The waste audit broke waste composition into 12 categories, each falling loosely into three subcategories. The subcatagories, as indicated in the chart above, are recyclables, divertables and landfillables. Recycleables are defined simply as those materials which can be recycled, this is to say the material can be re-milled and that a buyer can be found for them. Divertables are materials which can be diverted from landfill but are not generally recycled in the classic sense. They tend to be organic products. Landfillables are all materials which cannot be recycled or otherwise diverted.

7.2 Building Associations

As mentioned in the Methods section of this report, no waste management data is available in a per faculty form. Further, the waste audit was performed on a per building basis. A bridge between these two data sets had to be drawn, and this was done by assigning buildings to faculties based on relative space utilization. The results of this exercise are summarized in Table 1 below.

Table 1

Building Associations

Arts Math Optometry

Since the faculty of art holds the greatest amount of space in each of these buildings it is assigned or associated with each of these buildings.

Source: Office of Space Utilization, 1995

In order to illustrate the process Appendix A has been included. It is a complete listing of all building faculty associations

7.3 Scenarios 0-3.

As indicated in the methods section, four scenarios were performed. The first, or Scenario 0, is the actual waste management balance sheet for the year 1995. It serves as a baseline against which the other scenario's may be compared. The scenarios are as follows:

The chief finding is that the university as a whole stands to potentially earn between $100,000 and $200,000 in new moneys by removing recyclables and divertables from the landfill-bound waste stream. Currently waste management is a liability, costing the university over $125,000 in 1995 alone. The results are summarized in Chart 2.

At the level of individual faculties a similar trend was discovered. Depending on the size of faculty and the scenario's assumptions, faculties could potentially earn between one to five thousand dollars in discretionary funds. In the case of Scenario 1, earnings of as much as $20,000 appear possible. At present, faculties neither gain nor lose anything as a result of waste management practices. These results are compiled in Charts 4,5 and 6.

8.0 Discussion

8.1 The Scenarios

The report only considered three alternative scenarios, though numerous scenarios could be performed. Of the scenarios considered, the most profitable for the university as a whole is scenario 2, potentially generating $230,000 in new money for the campus community. The faculties would gain the most through scenario 1, but scenario 2 would increase the likelihood of 100% diversion because two incentives exist: earning money on recyclables and avoiding payments for extra waste management costs. In scenario 2, faculties are given budget allotments which assume 100% diversion. If this target is not achieved, faculties must pay for any waste management costs exceeding the budget allotment either by diverting money from other faculty projects or by cutting into recycling revenues.

Before either scenario one or two can be implemented, however, an effective monitoring system for recyclables must be put in place. The section below outlines a monitoring option which may provide for this need. Without such a system per faculty revenues cannot be calculated or distributed.

Without a monitoring program in place the most probable decentralization scenario would be scenario 3 in which budget allotments are given to the faculties assuming 1995 waste generation levels. Faculties would not collect any revenues on recyclables sold. While it may be the most probable, it also provides the smallest financial incentive, potentially generating only one to five thousand dollars in discretionary funds per faculty. If the inclination is toward scenario 3 it might make more sense to opt for a recycling lottery rather than a partial decentralization scheme.

No matter what scenario is run (1, 2 or 3), it is very clear that in doing nothing the university stands to lose considerable sums of money on an annual basis.

8.2 A Monitoring Program

In order to develop a simple but effective monitoring program for either a waste lottery or decentralized waste management system, the following information is required:

For Recyclables

For Landfillables

Implementation

The first task would be to conduct an inventory of all bins serving each building on-campus. The inventory will indicate the number of bins, their size, their contents, and when they are collected. Each bin will then be assigned a unique code. For example, MC-20C-1-MW. This would indicate that this bin is assigned to the math and computer building (MC), is a certain size (20 arbitrary size units), contains cans (C), is the first of three bins this size, and is collected on Mondays and Wednesdays (MW). The bin inventory will produce a sheet listing all bins for a given building. The janitorial staff would be given this sheet and just prior to collection, they will be asked to record as a percentage the 'fullness' of each bin next to its individual code. To ease this process, the inner walls of the bins could be graduated. Appendix B indicates what a completed bin sheet for the Math and Computer Building might look like (hypothetical case). This percentage combined with the known bin size allows the production of an accurate weight or volume figure for the given material. Further, a web page could be set up that would allow janitorial staff to directly input this weekly data into a central database, allowing progress reports to virtually generate themselves on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. The frequency of comprehensive progress reports would be determined by the material with the longest collection cycle. It is important to note that this process is to be applied to all waste materials, recyclables and landfillables both.

Using the Data

As indicated at the beginning of this section, the proposed monitoring program is suitable for both decentralization and for the lottery waste management approaches. The application to decentralization is clear, but the application of this monitoring system to the lottery system is less so. Throughout this report the lottery has been connected with waste stream composition data, the data which is the product of waste audits. This information is invaluable and should be collected, but a lottery program can be implemented in its absence. Rather than monitoring waste stream composition, the relative size of the mill-bound waste stream to the landfill-bound waste stream is tracked. The faculty which has the highest proportion of its total waste being sent to recycling mills would be the winner of the lottery, as would be the faculty that has most dramatically increased its proportion of mill-bound waste. Further, this tracking process could be done either as a on-going activity throughout the year or over a brief sample period.

Labour Intensity

During the latter stages of research, we became aware of a concern that some in plant operations have regarding schemes such as the one outlined in this report. The concern is that efforts such as this one may increase the task burden placed upon the janitorial staff (Burber, 1996). Establishing and maintaining an effective monitoring system is perhaps the most involved aspect of any decentralization scheme. The authors believe that we have demonstrated through this discussion that such a system can be implemented without significant disruptions to current janitorial routines.

Building Associations

The results of the present analysis, while valuable, are limited in several respects. One of these limitations revolves around the establishment of faculty-building associations. The fact that the waste audit was not performed universally across the campus, and the fact that waste flows from more than one building were occasionally combined in the audit, did not permit anything other than the crudest faculty-building association.

If audits were performed such that the waste stream was measured exclusively on a per building basis, a much more refined approach would be possible. One could total all space assigned to each faculty in each building across the entire campus, and generate proportions based on this. This would avoid the problem of 'leaving out' some faculties as is the case with the crude association. This must be addressed in some way before a fair decentralization scheme or lottery could be attempted.

The other key limitation to the current analysis is that only three faculties could be examined. Even with the crude association, complete data existed only for the faculties of Art, Math and Optometry. This was the case because the waste streams of either one or more buildings associated with other faculties were either missed in the audit, or were combined with the waste streams of other buildings, rendering the data unusable.

Waste Audit Limitations

The waste audit was limited in that it was not performed universally across campus. This has already been discussed in terms of building associations, but it also raises questions on the overall representativeness of the total campus waste stream. As can be seen in appendix, only a fraction of the total waste stream was audited.

Another limitation lies in the fact that not all recyclable materials were effectively monitored. A good example of this is in the treatment of plastics. The audit only had one category for plastic, lumping together plastics which were recyclable with those which were not. This was a product of when the audit was performed (ie. before PET was routinely recycled) but it does, none the less, under inflate the potential revenues the university could earn by diverting all recyclables and divertables from the landfill-bound waste stream.

Projection Limitations

The process used in this report to generate a waste stream composition projection for 1995 using 1992 data assumed that the relative percentages of a given material in the landfill-bound waste stream remained constant. This is a reasonable working assumption, but in all probability the relative percentages have changed in the intervening years. It is impossible to tell if this has caused an inflation or deflation of the true revenue potential of the waste stream.

Underestimation of Potential Faculty Revenues

All of the scenarios indicating faculty income from the sale of recyclables underestimate the true revenue potential of each faculty within a partially decentralized waste management system. This is the case because, as mentioned in the method section, only the revenues from materials in the landfill-bound waste stream were considered. There was no way to proportionately divide revenues already being generated from the sale of recyclables between faculties. In 1995 these revenues exceeded $121,000. If it was possible to divide these revenues between faculties, most faculties would likely be earning between $15,000 to $25,000, depending on the scenario and the size of the faculty.

Reading University and Faculty Revenues

Scenario's 1, 2 and 3 have been discussed at both the university and the faculty levels. All three scenarios look at the potential revenues at both levels, and for this reason an important aside must be mentioned. In those scenarios in which revenues from recyclables are collected by the faculties (scenarios 1 and 2) the figures indicating faculty income and university income should not be read as two separate sets of income. This is to say that when the Faculty of Arts, as an example, earns $20,000 the university does not earn an additional $100,000. The university income figure in the case of scenarios 1 and 2 represents the revenues earned by all faculties combined, not an additional set of monies collected by the central administration.

Revenues as Savings

As indicated in previous sections, diverting recyclables and divertables from the landfill-bound waste stream could generate earnings of $100,000 to $230,000. Another way of looking at these figures is to consider them as savings. This would be consistent with the terminology used by the waste management coordinator (Cook 1995, ). Expressed in this fashion, and given that waste management represented a net cost of $125,000 in 1995 for the University (Cook, 1995), total diversion would represent a 'savings' of between $225,000 and $345,000 per annum.

Annual Revenues

As Charts 2 thru 5 are considered, it is important to note that they indicate an annual expences and revenues, not just a one time cost / profit. In five years the university would earn $500,000 to $1,150,000 through diversion. In ten years the university would earn between one and two million dollars. In short, any effort made to better collect recyclables and divertables will pay significant dividends over time.

Recycling Lottery

If it is found that proportionally dividing recycling revenues (as in scenarios 1 and 2) does not create an attractive enough incentive to change waste management systems or practices, a lottery approach might be more effective. The prize pool could be, for example, $50,000 to $100,000 and two prizes could be awarded annually (each $25,000 to $50,000), one for the lowest percentage of recyclables and divertables in the landfill-bound waste stream and the other for the greatest improvement in performance. If a recycling lottery was set up in this fashion, it would allow the central administration to collect $50,000 to $100,000 for discretionary spending.

Limits of the Financial Motive

Our analysis indicates that partially decentralizing the waste management system could potentially generate $100,000 to $230,000 campus-wide. This could translate to a few thousand dollars to over $20,000 per faculty. This may not be a sufficiently attractive incentive for faculties or for the central administration to adjust waste management systems and practices. This cannot be known until the idea is tabled before them however.

Relying on the financial motive could also introduce other problems. Faculties or students may, as a way of protecting recycling revenues or illicitly generating them, cheat. Landfillables could be deposited into bins associated with other faculties, or recyclables could be gathered from other faculties to increase the recycling revenues of a given faculty. It is unclear if the money involved would prompt such action.

Waste Reduction Target

The provincial government has set a waste reduction target that the university must meet. Between 1987 and 2000 the landfill-bound waste stream is to be reduced by 50% (Cook, 1995, web page). Given that the university waste stream is approximately 60% divertable, more effectively capturing these materials before they enter the landfill-bound waste would not only meet but surpass this provincially defined target. Partially decentralizing the waste management system or setting up a lottery would provide a much greater incentive to capture these materials than currently exists.

Lottery vs Decentralization

A lottery would be readily implementable but it may not be as effective as a decentralization scheme in creating an environment of change. First, all participants in the system would feel the consequences of waste management behaviors directly, rather than just having a chance at feeling them. Second, because decentralization schemes require regular monitoring, the prospects of frequent progress reports at the faculty level are much greater. Regular tracking reports would keep the issue firmly in the public mind, and reinforce any changes people might make to reduce the amount of material sent to landfill. As a result, one could expect faster rates of change, more creative and intensive system augmentations and greater community involvement because reinforcement is much more immediate. The immediacy of reinforcement is a critical element to behavioral change, either at the individual or system level. The more removed a behavior is from its consequence the less effectively that behavior can be either encouraged or discouraged (Bernstein et al, 1994, pg. 265). A lottery, because it can be administered exclusively on an annual basis, is likely to produce much lower rates and levels of change with the participation of much fewer people than is likely the case with a decentralization scheme.

9.0 CONCLUSIONS

We set out to demonstrate that by partially decentralizing the waste management system a significant financial motivation would emerge for faculties to aggressively divert recyclables from the waste stream. It is unclear if this has been wholly demonstrated, particularly if the decentralization scheme was administered strictly on proportionalities between faculties and university departments. Further, there is some question as to how the university should determine individual faculty or university department budget allotments, and/or if faculties should be given the option of appropriating the revenues generated from recyclables collected. A variety of formula's are possible, some allowing faculties to potentially pocket around $10,000, others allowing only a tenth of this amount.

These facts aside, several important conclusions can be made. The first is that the University is literally throwing away money. If recyclables were aggressively removed from the landfill-bound waste stream there is a good chance that the Waste Management Balance Sheet would indicate revenues rather than losses. Our figures, as mentioned in the Findings section, indicated that earnings of between $100,000 and $300,000 are possible.

A second clear conclusion is that determining the market value of recyclables in the waste stream is a useful analytical tool. It is both doable, as this report indicates, and gives a different perspective on recyclables in the waste stream. No longer do they become just a loss of savings (land filling costs more than recycling), but rather a loss of potential revenues. Once it is apparent that one is throwing money away, literally, one is more inclined to discontinue the practice.

A third conclusion is that waste flows can be monitored on a faculty by faculty basis. The measure that we applied throughout this report is crude, but it can be refined considerably once universal audit information is compiled. With such a measure in place, it becomes possible to identify both effective and ineffective waste managers. Once identified, effective waste managers can be awarded.

Despite the fact that an effective methodology for tracking waste management practices for each faculty can be devised, as shown in this report, monitoring is still the biggest problem in setting up an effective campus community mobilization program. Waste audits are a crucial to such programs, but they do not monitor progress at a rate that is meaningful to the average person on-campus. The time lag between a person altering a behavior and seeing the positive consequences of that change should be minimal and audits at present aren't even performed annually. An ideal feedback system would provide progress information once every two weeks to a month, in our view.

Given all of these findings, we have taken care in generating a comprehensive list of recommendations. They are forwarded in the hopes that others may continue this work and help us all move the University of Waterloo toward a sustainable future.


Last updated April 21, 1996. das