10.0 RECOMMENDATIONS

As with most research, Recycling the Budget generated more questions than it answered. We've included as Recommendations both those actions which our research indicated would be prudent, as well as those questions which should be further pursued in other projects. We've taken considerable care in framing these further research questions so that others might pick up where we were left off. We do hope that they are found useful in this regard.

10.1 Hold UW Waste Management Conference

Agenda Items and Concept

A natural starting point, if one hopes to widen and coordinate the base of stake-holders in a challenge, is to initiate a conference. We propose that this be attempted, with a view to heighten awareness, stimulate discussion and explore possibilities. Among those who might be usefully involved would be the various department head and deans, or their representatives, Plant Operations personnel, the Federation of Students, the WATgreen Student Network and the various student societies. As an assistance to this, we make the following recommendations:

Decentralization Options

Throughout this report one of several decentralization schemes was considered at some length for discussion purposes. There are several possible scenarios should waste management be centralized in any manner. Throughout our discussions we have assumed a central role for Plant Operations. They would still be responsible for overseeing contract negotiation and still be given a central waste management budget, but rather than paying contractors directly, they will divide these monies among the faculties. They, as wastes are removed, will be invoiced by Plant Operations and obliged to pay back Plant Operations using the budget allotment originally forwarded to them. Given this, we recommend the following:

Recyclables Work/Study Option

Plant operations is concerned with the cost of handling recyclables. One possible response to this would be to include handling recyclables as part of the student work/study program. Student wages are lower than those of janitorial staff, and as a result could stretch the labour budget further than otherwise possible. Given this, we recommend the following:

Student Societies Management Option

Depending on the scenario one considers, the university stands to earn as revenues between $100,000 and $300,000 by diverting recyclables from the waste stream. Depending on the decentralization scheme one adopts this could translate to a few thousand to one or two tens of thousands of dollars per faculty. Depending on the vantage point one has, this represents a large amount of money or petty cash. In the case of students, or student societies, this would represent a considerable sum, in the case of faculties or university departments these amounts are not likely to attract much attention. If a form of decentralization is selected over a lottery, the student societies may be willing to work harder at diverting recyclables than other members of the campus community given the amounts of money involved.

It should be noted that if this approach is applied in a strict sense, it will exclude administrative departments from financially benefiting from any improvements they might make in terms of diverting recyclables. Given this we therefore recommend the following:

Recycling Lottery

Our figures indicate that if potential waste management revenues were spread proportionally among he faculties that each faculty would earn from one to roughly ten thousand dollars. This may represent new computer or two per faculty, but it may not be enough of an incentive to really encourage substantial change with regard to collecting recyclables. Given this, a lottery approach may be a more effective use of the potential waste management revenues. Monies earned on recyclables would be put into a pool and then awarded to one or two faculties based on waste management performance. Given this, we make the following recommendations:

Sensitive Information

This report is based on information which is principally for internal use. Since an effective community mobilization of some form requires meaningful feedback on its progress, it must be determined what information can be widely disseminated without compromising University of Waterloo contract interests, or alternatively, determine if information can be securely distributed exclusively to members of the campus community. We offer the following recommendations:

10.2 Create Feedback Structures

Encourage Suggestions

One of the biggest advantages to mobilizing a community around a goal, in our case increasing recycling on-campus, is that it brings on-side the ideas and experiences of everyone within that community. To realize the potential this represents it is critically important to create an environment, and a mechanism, which encourages and follows through on suggestions. The following are a few recommendations designed to create such an environment on campus. They are forwarded in support of any motivation, or set of motivations, used to mobilize the campus community in support of more sustainable waste management practices.

Progress Reports

An essential element of any motivational system is an effective feedback mechanism. An integral part of any feedback mechanism is an effective reporting structure. With such a structure in place participants are allowed to keep abreast of progress and respond to circumstances as they warrant. A reporting structure can also maintain momentum and interest in program goals over time. Included below are recommendations on how progress reports can be disseminated. They represent a combination of both broad and narrow band exposure. The broad band forums will let the general community know of both the existence of the program, as well as current levels of progress enjoyed, the narrow band exposure gives people who are following campus waste management issues more detailed information.

Develop Sensors

Monitoring University of Waterloo's progress on waste management targets is hampered by an inability to regularly and accurately collect information on waste flows. A small, cheap sensor installed on waste and recycling bins may help plug this gap. This could be a project for engineering or science students. We therefore recommend the following.

Establish Recycling - Landfill Waste Composition Relationship

A simple, easy to obtain and update indicator is needed to establish an effective waste management monitoring system on-campus. The indicator should give a sense of both the amount recycled and the composition of the landfill bound waste stream. If it could be shown that an increase in recyclables in the recycling stream represents a certain decrease in recyclables in the waste stream, regularly monitoring the recycling stream may serve as such an indicator. Given this, we recommend the following:

Periodic Visual Demonstrations.

In addition to providing progress reports as percentages or absolute waste management numbers, as suggested earlier, a second form of progress report may be useful: That of visual demonstration. Displays indicating the total amount of garbage generated on a given day may well help raise consciousness among the student body in a more concrete manner. Given this we therefore make the following recommendations:

New Waste Management Accounting Figures

Through our research we were exposed to most of the waste accounting figures currently used. Several additional figures might be usefully calculated and reported on a regular basis. Some of them are based on the calculations we performed in our analysis. We therefore make the following recommendations:

10.3 Refine Calculations

Incorporate Labour Costs

During the latter stages of our analysis we were made aware that labour costs had not been included in the costs of Land filling and recycling collection. It is unclear how this will impact the "Waste Management Balance Sheet" at the University of Waterloo. Rough estimates obtained from Plant Operations indicate that an additional $80,000 should be included in the costs for recycling. No estimate for the labour involved with handling landfillables was obtained. Given this, we make the following recommendations:

Recalculate Basic Service Fees

As mentioned in the Limitations section of this report, we simplified our calculations by assuming that service fees for the collection of recyclables and landfillables would remain constant between the null and alternative waste management options. Because volumes would dramatically shift as recyclables are removed from the landfill waste stream, the charges for recycling and Land filling would both change. Therefore, in the interests of greater accuracy, we recommend that:

Basic Service CNG Charge Increase

During our analysis we discovered a very large increase for Cardboard pickup. In the space of one year, the charges jumped approximately $10,000. We therefore recommend that:

Financial Consequences of Non-Compliance.

The Ontario Government set a waste reduction target of 50% between 1987 and the year 2000 for various sectors of the economy. The University of Waterloo belongs to one such sector. It is unclear what the consequences of non compliance are. There may be a fine involved. If so, this should be included in null option costs. We therefore recommend the following:

Re-examine Volume to Weight Ratios.

Service contracts for landfill and recycling pick-up, as well as general monitoring of wastes on-campus, make use of standard Volume to Weight ratios. These ratios may change as the content of the waste stream changes. Given this, we make the following recommendations:

Refine Per Faculty Waste Generation Figures

Among other things, this report demonstrated that it was possible to crudely associate buildings with specific faculties. This was done by assigning buildings based on principle occupancy. This process can be further refined as an aid to monitoring progress, determining winners of the waste management lottery, or setting up a decentralized billing system. Within each building the percentage occupancy can be determined for each faculty and these percentages can be applied against the waste produced by a given building. This will provide a tonnage figure per building per faculty and can be summed on a per faculty basis. This is to say that the tonnage each faculty generates at each building can be summed such that each faculty's contribution to the University of Waterloo's total waste stream (recyclables and landfillables) can be calculated. Available data did not allow this calculation to be performed. Should this data become available, as it would with a universal campus audit, this calculation can per performed and a more accurate picture of per faculty waste generation will emerge. Given this, we recommend the following:

10.4 Further Research

Conducting Audits

As we conducted our analysis we found the information available through the audit limited in a number of respects: it was not universal, it was old and it had a tendency to combine information from more than one building, unfortunately crossing faculty lines occasionally. Another factor which limited the usefulness of the audits was that the audit categories did not match the price categories issued by the mills very well. For example, there are close to ten categories of paper listed by the mill, while the visual audits only recognized two: recyclable and non-recyclable. A similar problem existed with the plastics category: p.e.t. does not appear on the visual audit form. This material, unlike many plastics, is recyclable and should be considered. Given this, we make the following recommendations:

Re-examine The Recycling Auditing Process

An attempt was made to determine the proportional revenue each faculty currently generates through existing recycling efforts. Unfortunately this was not possible given unreliable data. Two official tables describing recycling on-campus on a building by building basis conflicted. A prime example is seen in the case of East Campus Hall. According to the information in the visual audit, when coupled with the table indicating bin weights and frequency of pickups, East Campus Hall generates almost half of UW total white paper. This is unlikely. We therefore recommend that:

Volatile Mill Rates

Some of the mill rates, which determine the revenue garnered from recyclable materials, are extremely variable. Cardboard is especially so, varying from $1000/T to $60/T in little over a year. Given this, we recommend that:

Unit Conversions

We found some conversion errors in the various tables. In the case of cardboard recycling 1995 a conversion from kg to T was performed by dividing by 2000. Such errors are not difficult to make when regularly converting from lbs to T, so we therefore recommend that:

Determine Other Forms of Motivation

This proposal had two general premises, the first was that a key to increasing recycling on-campus was to find an effective motivation for people to do so, and second, that this motivation should be somehow 'insertable' into existing administrative frameworks at both top and middle levels such that it became a concrete organizational goal, not just a nebulous idea that was left to the individual. Ultimately the responsibility does rest upon the individual to foster change, but the individual will not likely take this responsibility without the support and encouragement of meaningful communities. By creating an organizational goal within the middle administration, we hoped to create such an atmosphere within what we hoped was a meaningful community. The specific motivation we focussed upon was the prospect of new monies, or alternatively, the maintenance of existing monies. This may not be the only effective motivation which can be inserted into middle administration. Further, relying on financial motivations as the primary engine of change may cultivate unwanted behaviors, namely various forms of cheating. For example, a faculty or student association may attempt to lessen their waste flow by depositing waste they have generated in the receptacles of another faculty. We therefore make the following recommendations:

Handling Recyclables

As this project was being completed, we had occasion to interview a member of Plant Operations. They offered a unique perspective on waste management on-campus. One of the concerns they consistently forwarded is that collecting recyclables requires more handling time than do landfillables. Given this, we make the following recommendations:


Last updated April 21, 1996. das