The purpose of our study was to determine the quantity and quality of waste generated by staff and students at the Ron Eydt Village cafeteria. We performed a waste audit in the Ron Eydt Village cafeteria to serve as a base-line study for future projects. Ron Eydt Village is a first year student residence formerly known as Village 2 (V2).  Our objectives were to reduce University operating costs and to provide information for Watgreen to help them in their quest to create a sustainable campus community.  We examined the inputs of the system including processed and raw solid food materials. In addition, the outputs of the system were also studied incorporating processed food by-products and student generated food waste. Our examination of the food waste system considered external factors including food producers, processors, distributors and those who receive the waste. The food waste generated is important since disposal is costly; putting stress on the environment, such as; fossil fuel consumption by trucks gathering the wastes, air pollution, leachate from waste containers, noxious odours, and contamination of the drainage system. Other stresses include toxic run-off at landfill sights, noise pollution, and public health concerns. Generating less waste will ultimately reduce disposal costs for the University. Money that is saved can then be used for other projects which promote sustainability on campus.
     The Brundtland Commission Report defines sustainability as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". Our vision of sustainability encompasses the definition presented by the Brundtland Commission and defines our goal of sustainability on the Waterloo campus.  In order to promote sustainability, we will incorporate ecosystem thinking into our project by looking at external stresses. Our main focus, however will be on the reduction of stresses to the environment within the campus ecosystem which are generated by waste disposal in the cafeteria.  The objective of the study was to offer practical solutions to further reduce waste generation.


 The Debit-Card System  
    Food services now uses a debit card system, which has been in place since fall 1993. Students living in residence purchase one of three meal plans when they are accepted into residence. The meal plans are set up to accommodate all eating habits, ranging from light eaters to hearty eaters.  The debit card system is a food system where students use a Value Plus Debit Card.  This card has a declining money balance.  Every time the student purchases a meal the amount of the purchase is debited from their account.  The Debit Card system works at any Food Services outlet on campus.   Students may use their Watcard off-campus at :
                    - Pizza Pizza (Delivery)                                    - Swiss Chalet (Delivery)
                    - KFC (Delivery)                                            - Student Health Pharmacy
                    - East Side Mario's                                         - Waterloo Taxi
                    - Casey's                                                        - Apple II (Hair Cutting)
                    - Blue Dog Bagels
    Students eating in the Ron Eydt Cafeteria are no longer permitted to take food out of the cafeteria as of September 1997, except for individually packaged sandwiches, salads and desserts. The cafeteria has reduced the use of disposable containers, by not allowing take-out and has increased the use of china dishes.

The All-You-Can-Eat System
    Under the old "all you can eat" food system meals were prepaid as part of the residence fee. Students were allowed to eat as much food as they wished, but no food was allowed to leave the cafeteria. Any food remaining on a residents tray had to be disposed of before exiting the cafeteria. A resident was not reimbursed for any missed meals. The Village 2 meal plan was not honoured at any other Food Services venue on campus without a food voucher. A voucher was equivalent to $3.75 which allowed residents to eat at other food services venues except for Federation Hall. If students went over the $3.75, the difference was to be paid in cash. Students received a meal card which served two purposes; identification and proof of students residence status and it also served as an attendance record in a particular meal on a specific day. The cards were given to kitchen staff members when exiting the cafeteria. The cards were counted at the end of the day and recorded onto a spreadsheet. These records allowed the head chef to determine how many meals were prepaid.

Past Studies
     There have been a number of studies done in the past related to cafeteria waste on campus both before and after the debit card system was implemented. These studies provided our group with background information to assist us in our assessment of the food waste system and how to conduct a waste audit.  They provided us with direction in determining what areas and factors have changed since the previous audits took place. These include:

Village One Food Waste Study - Shahnaz Zaheer, Winter 1994.

Summary :

     The purpose of  Shahnaz Zaheer's project was to determine the amount of waste generated within the Village One Cafeteria.  The project compared a previous food distribution system to the new debit card food distribution system.  Shahnaz concluded that there was a 37.29% reduction in waste produced from the old system to the new system.  The scrape room area has shown the largest reduction in waste with 71.26%, in the amount of waste thrown away by students.  Amount of waste produced in the pot room has increased by 14.73%, and the kitchen servery waste has decreased by 7.05%.  The total amount of kitchen waste has increased 1.71% since the implementation of the debit card system. Due to the significant decrease of waste in the scrape room, the final results determined that  the debit card system is efficient in reducing the total amount of waste produced.
    Shahnaz's recommendations included the elimination of disposables or that they be sustainably reduced at all food services outlets.  She suggested composting of any organics, along with food shipped to be used for cattle feed.  A final recommendation is to educate students and kitchen staff of the importance of sustainable waste practices, which will have an effect on the way the system is run.
    Shahnaz's report helped us in our study by providing us information about the previous food waste system and how to conduct a food waste audit.

An Improved Recycling System for Residence - Mark Pletsch, Fall 1994.

Summary :

     This report was completed by Mark Pletsch in the summer of 1994 for ERS 490 A&B.  The purpose of this study was to "test an alternative recycling system in the village residences at the University of Waterloo, and to determine the success of the new system".  The identified purpose of the project was to reduce waste, create a more efficient waste disposal system and evaluate the final results.  Pletsch studied the inefficiency of the recycling program in both villages.  He found that recycling containers were only accessible in central areas.  Consequently, recyclables would end up in the garbage because people would not take the time to walk to those containers.  He also identified the top 8 waste categories at the time.  Pletsch found a lot of organics, box board, food packaging and wax paper in the garbage.  The project done by Pletsch made our group realize that convenience is a necessity.  In order for any scale project to be accomplished successfully, the tasks must be manageable, require low maintenance and are easy to follow.

Identification of Target Areas for Waste Reduction at the Village Two Kitchen and Cafeteria - Betty Riggler, 1992.

Summary :

     The purpose of the study was to identify target areas for waste reduction at the Ron Eydt Village (Village 2) kitchen and cafeteria. This was achieved by conducting a waste study to determine the type of waste produced in the kitchen and cafeteria. Betty Riggler investigated feasible options in reducing the amount of waste entering the system. Implementation methods were investigated in the areas of food distribution and consumer packaging. The analysis included costs and benefits.  Recommendations were made, including; mess kits, beverage dispensers, use of bulk food, and a follow up study. This project enables us to see what recommendations have been previously made to Food Services, and to see which, if any, have been implemented. We will be able to investigate why the recommendations were not implemented. Thus preventing us from making similar recommendations that are not feasible.





     Our project examined the food flow in the Ron Eydt cafeteria. The system boundaries begin when the food enters the campus and are restricted to the solid waste collected by outside contractors (Capitol and Laidlaw).  The food is delivered by various food distributors to the different food preparation areas.  The meat is delivered every other day to the Ron Eydt kitchen, the pastry is delivered each day to the baker and the vegetables are delivered every day to the kitchen in the village.
   Our system begins with all the food being delivered to the kitchen. According to Heidi Bishop, the food is prepared and waste scrapes such as meat trimmings, egg shells, left over gravy, and soup get disposed of in the waste bin.  The waste from the servery such as coffee grinds, milk bags and bread wrappers are disposed of in the servery garbage.  Potatoes arrive already peeled, lettuce arrives shredded, and cauliflower and broccoli arrives pre-cut. There is little food reused from one day to  the next since it is available at a lower price later in the day to use it up.  The only food to be reused is usually vegetables for vegetarian entrees. When the food is fully prepared, it is taken to the servery for purchase by the student to be consumed only in the cafeteria. After consumption, waste is disposed of in the garbage bins in the scrape room.  Dishes are placed in the pot room where additional food scrapings are removed and placed in the garbage bins and the dishes are washed.  No food is allowed to be removed from the cafeteria, except for pre-packaged sandwiches, salads and desserts.  The reason that food is not allowed out of the cafeteria is to reduce the amount of waste from disposable food containers; this is also accomplished by the use of china dishes.
     The waste receptacles are then unloaded into larger bins outside of the Ron Eydt Village. The cans, bottles and other recyclables are taken to the recycling facility at the Erb St. Landfill and the waste bin is also taken there for final disposal. Waste is collected by Capital Inc. and cardboard is collected by Laidlaw.



    The diagrams above show the flows according to the actors in our food system study. The food flow diagram demonstrates the actors involved in each stage of food distribution. The communication flow diagram demonstrates the strong role of administration in making all final decisions.
The core actors of the system are:

The supporting actors are: There are also the shadow actors.  These are actors who do not become directly involved, but the consequences of all actors will eventually affect them.
Supporting and shadow actors  need to play a stronger role with regards to waste generation on campus and especially the Villages. CONTEXT

The context of our system study is limited to the University of Waterloo campus. The outermost boundaries are limited to the direct distributors delivering food to the village. This system includes:

You may look at a system in a narrow or broad context which will completely change the outlook of the system. The system in the context of the Region of Waterloo includes: When you look at the system in a larger context you get a different picture. If one looks at the system in a worldwide context you not only get the items above but also: This context helps us to understand the situation by providing us with the larger picture of the food system.  This allows us to see where the food is originating from and tells us who is involved in the scope of our system.


The Subsidiary Question Diagram looks at further information asked beyond the main diagram to solve the Research Question.


      The goal of our group project was to perform a waste audit and evaluate the data to make useful recommendations for the cafeteria. The data was collected in a qualitative and quantitative manner. During the three week study period a random sample was completed to compare the weight of the food waste to weights produced from  packaging. The food was weighed according to the following criteria; food waste and packaging. This was the qualitative data, along with the answers to the research questions. The above chart displays the appropriate questions we asked of various contacts to ensure the interpretation and collection of data runs smoothly.
      Heidi Bishop offered to record the number of people per meal per day. This allowed us to calculate a base number of waste generated per student per meal. According to Heidi Bishop a meal is constituted by a breakfast, lunch, or dinner special. Patti Cook has assisted us by providing us with proper measuring equipment to weigh the waste.
      In order to determine whether or not there has been a reduction in the amount of food waste per serving in the village we conducted a waste audit. The waste was separated into two main categories; staff waste, which comes from the kitchen and the servery and the student waste, which comes from the scrape room and the pot room. We also divided the waste into two sub-categories: packaging and food waste generated by each main category. A tally was kept of the number of students served per meal, and this was collected through the tally slips already produced in the cafeteria for the administration.
     We conducted an audit to measure the quantity and quality of the waste. In order to determine this we separated the staff waste and the student waste into food waste and packaging. Each bag of garbage was opened and the packaging was separated from the food waste. Food waste was organic matter, for example; banana peels, coffee grinds and bones.  Packaging was processed materials; such as napkins, maple syrup containers and milk cartons. Since much of the food waste is still in the container when it is disposed of, we shook the container to remove the food waste. The waste was separated by two group members on each occasion. Once the food waste and the packaging had been separated, the food waste for the staff was weighed and recorded and the packaging for the staff was weighed and recorded. Then, the food waste for the students was weighed and recorded and the packaging for the students was weighed and recorded.
     The waste weight calculations were obtained with respect to the relative varying student population in the cafeteria.  The total number of registered students with meal plans at the Ron Eydt Village is 736.  The waste was weighed for a three week period beginning on  Monday, March 2, 1998.  The three week study period was chosen because the food selections are cycled on a three week basis, except for breakfast which has no obvious pattern. After the three week sample period, the data was analyzed and evaluated in order to provide recommendations for a more sustainable food waste system at the Ron Eydt Village.
     To determine when the food waste/packaging audit will occur we have conducted a  random sample, using the military standards method. This method involves using the square root of the number of sample point, which in our study will be 21 days for lunch and dinner and 18 days for breakfast since there is no breakfast served on Sundays. The three times of the day were chosen to coordinate with the times at which the waste is disposed of by the kitchen staff.  From this we have chosen 5 random days for lunch and dinner, which was obtained by rounding the square root of 21 up from 4.58 to 5 days. For breakfast we have chosen  4 days, which was obtained by rounding the square root of 18 from 4.24 down to 4 days. This information will provide us with descriptive data for our study. We then went to the Table of Random Digits in the David S. Moore book The Basic Practice of Statistics  and came up with the random sample days.  The random sample days for the food waste/packaging audit are as follows:

    BREAKFAST (10 a.m.)

    LUNCH (2 p.m.)     DINNER (7 p.m.)      At the end of the study period we collected the tally sheets from Heidi Bishop and incorporated them into our evaluation. The weight of the garbage, as well as the number of meals served per day was used to calculate an average of the food waste produced per meal served. We then assessed the quality of the waste by evaluating the data from our food waste/packaging audit.  We then devised some recommendations to help reduce waste at the student villages in order to promote a sustainable campus.  As stated earlier, we followed the vision of sustainability as defined by the Brundtland Commission. Our criteria for sustainability was to reduce the amount of materials being used, and therefore the amount of waste produced at the Ron Eydt Village to an amount that is within the Universities' capacity to handle. This will be sustainable since we will not be using more materials, or generating more waste, than is necessary. Through studying the results of the excess food waste, we can understand what recommendations can be made to reduce the waste output and further sustainability on campus.


Calculating the Results
      When we were doing our food waste audit, we began by separating the data into the two sub-categories, the staff and student waste. From this information, we began to prepare our results. First, we separated it into breakfast, lunch and dinner and entered the data onto the spread sheets. Then, we considered packaging and food waste as separate and combined data to calculate weight per meal for students and staff. Next, we took the total number of meals served and divided it by the specific weight of food and packaging waste produced by both students and staff. Following this we took the packaging average weight and the food average weight and added them together to give us the total of food and packaging waste produced by students and staff. To determine the total percentage of waste produced by packaging we took the specific weight of the packaging waste and divided it by the total weight for both student and staff. The procedure was done also to determine the total percentage of food waste produced by both students and staff. This method did not combine both of the waste produced by student and staff.

Discussion of the Food Waste Results
       Through calculating our results, we found that at breakfast, there was an average of 228.5  meals served. The staff produced 2.6 Kg more waste than the students. The students produced 12.4 Kg of food waste in the morning compared to 7.8 Kg for packaging. Each student created a total of 0.088 Kg of  packaging and food waste per meal. The average weight per meal in packaging produced by the students is 0.034 Kg and the weight of food waste per meal produced by the students was 0.05 Kg. This shows that 55.17% of waste produced is food and 44.83% of waste produced is packaging.  Staff produced  an average total weight of 22.8 Kg. Food waste represents 19.8 Kg and packaging represents 3.08 Kg of waste produced in the morning. The staff created an average weight of 0.01 Kg per meal of packaging and 0.09 Kg of food waste. The total weight produced per meal per student by the staff is 0.10 Kg. On average the cafeteria produces 15.24% of packaging waste  and 84.76% of food per breakfast.
      Through calculating the results, we found that at lunch, there was an average of 405 meals served. The students produced 1.15 Kg more waste than the staff. The students produced 12.3 Kg of food waste at lunch compared to 9.45 Kg for packaging. Each student created a total of 0.06 Kg of packaging and  food waste per meal. The average weight per meal in packaging produced by the students is 0.03 Kg and the weight of food waste per meal is 0.03 Kg. This shows that 57.97% of waste produced is food and 42.03% of waste is packaging. Staff produced an average total of 20.7 Kg. Food waste represents 13.15 Kg and packaging represents 7.55 Kg of weight. The staff created an average weight of 0.02 Kg of packaging per meal and 0.03 Kg of food waste. The total weight produced per meal per student by the staff is 0.05 Kg. On average the cafeteria  produces 37.98% of packaging waste and 62.62% of food per lunch.
    For dinner, we found that, there was an average of 503.8 meals served. The students produced 4.73 Kg more waste then the staff. The students produced 28.2 Kg of food waste and 9.97 Kg of packaging at dinner. Each student created a total of 0.08 Kg of food and packaging waste per meal. The average weight per meal in packaging produced by the students is 0.02 Kg and the weight of food waste per meal produced by the students was 0.06 Kg. This shows that 71.28% of waste produced is food and 22.72% of waste produced is packaging. Staff produced an average total weight of 33.06 Kg. Food waste represented 22.25 Kg  and packaging represents 7.81 Kg of waste produced at dinner. The staff created an average weight of 0.02 Kg per meal  of packaging and 0.06 Kg of food waste. The total  weight produced per meal per student by the staff is 0.07 Kg. On average the cafeteria produced 67.04 Kg of food waste and 32.47 Kg of packaging waste per dinner.

T-Test Statistics and Confidence - To view Statistical calculations click here.

     A t-test was performed to see if the population means of our samples compared to Shahnaz's samples are the same, using a 95% confidence level.  The use of a t-test can be useful for interpretation. This test was applied to the total student wastes and total staff wastes.  The final calculations we obtained do not fall within the confidence interval of 95%.  This tells us that the population means are different and the waste calculations that we have are different to Shahnaz's results. These calculations show that there has been a change in the system.

Total Waste Produced by Students and Staff for all samples (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)
     The graphs show whether there is a distinct split between the sample points of Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.  The results are also grouped in sections showing if there are any large variances in the samples.  Breakfast is represented by the first four points, Lunch by the second five, and Dinner the last five. In the graphs below this data is represented per meal compared to staff and students.

Packaging by Students - Graph
      The amount of packaging waste produced by students appears to depend on the day os the week and the number of students in attendance.
Lunch packaging runs within the range of 0.015 Kg and 0.025 Kg. There is one day that is drastically different than the others, this could be due to an outlier. It appears that the same amount of packaging was used daily for dinner.

Food by Students - Graph
      Breakfast seems to be fairly consistent. All breakfast meals seem to fall within a range of 0.025Kg to 0.035KG.  When considering the data for lunch it seems to be fairly consistent, possibly following a trend depending on types of food served.  This result might show up better if more data over time was compared.  Dinner, seems to also fall within what could be a fairly small range cycle.  This range from 0.03 to 0.09Kg.   The most waste is produced at this meal because it is the largest meal, that it the reason for the higher numbers.

Packaging and Food by Students - Graph
     Breakfast shows a spike on the second sample day which shows no particular reasoning.  However, there is a fair amount of garbage produced during breakfast which could be from students on the run for class in the morning.  Lunch, tends to follow a specific pattern or routine and falls within a 0.02Kg variance most of the time.  Dinner, seems to be going up and down significantly depending on the meal and sample day.  On the 5th sample day which was a Saturday the results were quite low possibly resulting from low attendance on the weekends.

Packaging by Staff  - Graph
     Breakfast shows extreme variance day to day depending on what is being prepared for lunch and dinner.  Lower packaging numbers might appear from the reuse of food.  Lunch, and Dinner both show similar spiking trends in the graph.  This could possibly result from the difference in what meals are being prepared day to day.

Food by Staff  -  Graph
    In Breakfast preparation there seems to be the similar spike on the 2nd sample day possibly resulting from the food preparation on Friday, which may not be consumed by students as they may not attend dinner before the weekend.  The rest of the points seem to fall within  a general and similar range.  Lunch, produces the least amount of waste and is fairly consistent without much deviance across all the points.  This might show that the cafeteria is producing similar foods that are generally consumed by the students.  For Dinner it was seen that food waste was consistent within a range except for a couple points.  The 2nd sample day showed virtually 0 Kg of waste production which was possibly attributed to the use of leftovers and pre-fabrication of the food.

Packaging and Food by Staff  -  Graph
    Breakfast total waste production was quite high which probably results from the production of food for lunch and dinner during the early hours of the day.   Lunch, was consistent and seemed to fall within a very small range of weight.  Dinner, is relatively consistent with exception with the fifth sample day, falling on a Saturday.  High totals might result from the overestimation of the student eating habits.  This results in a large amount of total waste being discarded.

Visual Audit Results
    During our visual audits, we found there were a large number of napkins that appeared un-used in bunches. We also found many china plates, bowls, and cups. As well, there were many glasses and cutlery within the garbage. Our visual audit also found that there were some recyclables thrown out in the garbage. There was a large quantity of vegetable scraps such as carrot peelings and lettuce, despite that fact that Heidi had informed us that vegetables arrive pre-cut and pre-peeled. We also found poultry carcasses thrown in the garbage, when these should have been disposed of in the grease bins. In addition, we found a large quantity of milk cartons, maple syrup containers, straws and disposable Jell-O containers. Soup and hot cereal was thrown out in large quantities.

      Based on our study of the Ron Eydt Village cafeteria waste system, we have made many recommendations in order to reduce waste being produced.

      According to our visual audit, napkins were a major component of the packaging waste. Currently, napkins are simply placed in a bucket in the cafeteria, to reduce the number of napkins being taken from the table, we recommend that dispensers be placed by the cash register. This will allow for the students to take napkins, but decrease the large number they normally take since they will be forced to take them out one at a time, instead of taking a pile. As well, the students will not have a large amount of time to take an excess of napkins since they are in a line and will have to move through quickly.

Bulk Containers
      Some products in the cafeteria are already in bulk containers, however, there is much room for improvement. We believe it is feasible to eliminate many of the containers being used for milk, juice, and maple syrup by having  bulk dispensers. The students could use plastic cups instead of the pre-packaging from the milk and juice containers. This will also reduce the number of straws used in beverage containers. The maple syrup could be put into pitchers instead of individual packaged portions.

Alternatives to Landfill
    There was a great deal of plastic packaging in the waste. The Canadian Waste Material Exchange (CWME) has waste haulers which are interested in normally non-recyclable plastics. For more information, you can call (416) 822-4111. By utilizing this company, plastic packaging in the waste stream could be greatly reduced.

     Thermo Tech Technologies Inc. organizes business interested in buying and selling various types of food waste. This food is then delivered to farms for livestock feed for pigs. This would prevent the food waste being generated in the cafeteria from going to a landfill. Staff and students would have to separate the food from the packaging during disposal in a separate containers so it is pre-sorted for the pig feed. We believe considering pigs as an option for waste reduction should be looked into further. For more information, you can call (905) 450-8866 or fax (905) 450-0018.
Mess Kits
      Mess kits could be used as an alternative to using disposables and cafeteria dishes. This would reduce the amount of waste and eliminate the large number of dishes that disappear from the cafeteria. Last term 25 dozen dishes were stolen; as well, we found a number of them in the garbage while doing our audit. The mess kits would contain a plate, bowl, cup, mug and cutlery. They would be included in the cost of the meal plan and would be available for pick-up during frosh week and the first week of school. After this time, they would be available at the front desk at the Village, and there would be a cost for replacement. The students would be responsible for the cleaning of the mess kit dishes and would do this in the scrape room with dish sponges. In order for this recommendation to work, there needs to be ample marketing to the students so that they are encouraged to buy and use the kits.

      We recommend that a pamphlet be distributed with mess kits and signs be placed in the cafeteria regarding waste production. As well, we recommend that the pamphlet be distributed to the staff and signs posted in the kitchen. These would demonstrate to the students how much waste they generate and would increase their consciousness about the issue. This would also encourage mess kit use and make the students become aware of what they throw out. Therefore, the amount of waste being produced would decrease and further our goal of sustainability.

    In conclusion, we found that the food waste at Ron Eydt Village was being produced more by the students than by the staff. The students create a greater amount of waste for both lunch and dinner and overall by 3.28 Kg per day. Our recommendations should lower the amount of waste production to a more sustainable level. The province of Ontario has a goal of 50% diversion of waste from disposal by the year 2000. The waste reduction programs should provide the cafeteria with lower costs and will help the university to save money as well. Waste reduction is a means of achieving a higher degree of efficiency in operation.


Food Services - Heidi Bishop ext. 3125 (Ron Eydt Food Services Manager)
    - She is our key contact in the Servery area.  She provided us with background information.

Housekeeping - Peter Jordan ext. 5178
    - He is in charge of garbage control and is our contact on the garbage flow.

Teaching Assistant - Eric Tucs
    - He is our statistical advisor for the random sampling done in this project.

Waste Management Co-ordinator - Patricia Cook ext. 3245
    - She is our key contact for our waste audit.  She is providing us with the tools and background information on how to perform a waste audit.

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Last Updated February 27, 1998.