Recycling the Budget: Finding the Recyclables in Waste

by: D. Sangster, J. Ton, D. Wolf

Course: ERS 285, 1996
Supervisor: Jim Robinson


As both funding cutbacks and environmental consciousness are becoming increasingly prevalent at the University of Waterloo, the Recycling the Budget team undertook a study to 1) gain a better understanding of the content of the landfill bound waste stream and 2) identify any materials in the waste stream which may have a monetary value. The study was performed using the 1992 visual waste audit, applying correction factors to ensure it represents 1995 proportions and finally deriving the weights and economic value of recyclable materials which are being directed towards the landfill. The findings have indicated that there is a substantial volume (greater than 60%) of material which is being directed towards the landfill when infact is can be recycled or diverted. As well the monetary value of the recyclable content has been calculated as being over $230,000. The following Study Report describes, in detail, the procedures, mechanisms, results of the study and provides a number of recommendations to facilitate the recapturing of this economic loss.

Given the unusual name of this report, a few words of explanation may be helpful. 'Recycling the Budget' is about two things: supporting recycling efforts on-campus and exploring ways the waste management system, including the budgeting process, might be modified to better support recycling targets. In this fashion the term 'recycling' in 'Recycling the Budget' is used in two senses, the first refers to the familiar collection and remilling of materials such as metal and glass, the second refers to the re-looping or re-configuration of the waste management budget. Recycling as the changing of cycles rather than the reinsertion of something into the same cycle. The title 'Recycling the Budget' represents the best effort of the authors to concisely combine these two concepts.

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Last updated: June 12, 1996 plc