By 2025, achieve a 60% diversion rate; by 2035, become a zero-waste campus (90% diversion rate)
Description: Waterloo recalculated its diversion rate in 2018 to reflect better methodology for yard waste and scrap wood. This lowered the overall diversion rate for all years.
Waterloo’s diversion rate was improving prior to the pandemic, as the campus initiated new programs and services to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste. While 2020 created significant disruption, resumption of activities should continue this trend.
All campuses, including Affiliated and Federated Institutions of Waterloo.
Limitations and Exclusions:
- Does not include information on mixed containers or paper recycling through the blue bin program from 2010-2015, or organics recycling through the green bin program, as this data is not available even though recycling programs existed.
- Hazardous waste includes chemical waste, PCB, and biohazard waste.
- The numbers below do not include waste and recycling from the University of Waterloo’s annual Canada Day celebration.
Individual waste streams are calculated as follows:
- Campus Compost weighs all organics placed in the tumbler.
- Garbage, hazardous waste, cardboard, batteries, scrap metal, paper, light bulbs, and e-waste numbers are all based on weigh bills provided by the respective service providers.
- Garbage and cardboard at the Stratford, Kitchener, and Cambridge campuses did not receive weigh bills prior to 2019, but the hauler supplies an industry standard for weight per cubic yard, which is multiplied against the number of bin pickups. This was included in the aggregate garbage total for 2016 (and onward), but was absent in previous years.
- Containers and mixed papers recycling before 2019 was based on bin counts conducted by Custodial Services and Residence Cleaning Services. Staff developed weekly reports of the number and fullness of recycling bins that have been placed out for collection, which were multiplied by average weights for those bins. Numbers for 2017 were extrapolated for the full year based on weekly averages for weeks during which collections were taken. Due to variability in completeness of the reports, there is a wide range of uncertainty in this methodology, but it does provide some indication of recycling activity. As of 2019, these will be weighed reports from the waste hauler.
- Scrap untreated wood and brush are processed into mulch on North Campus and reused in gardens. To estimate weight, staff conducted a visual inspection of the approximate number of cubic yards of wood and brush collected, and third-party auditors retained by the University to conduct its annual waste audit multiplied this against industry standards for weight. There is a wide range of uncertainty in this methodology.
- Yard waste such as grass clippings and leaves is processed in compost windrows on North Campus and reused in gardens. To estimate weight, staff conducted a visual inspection of the approximate number of cubic yards of yard waste collected, and third-party auditors retained by the University to conduct its annual waste audit multiplied this against industry standards for weight. There is a wide range of uncertainty in this methodology.
- Organics were estimated based on bin collection volumes for 2016 and 2017. In 2018, Waterloo entered into an organics hauling contract as a pilot, which provided weigh bills for materials collected. The hauling contract launched in January 2019 will also weigh all organics going forward.
- Central Stores began measuring reuse programs through the surplus sale, for furniture that was repurposed, resold, or donated. These items were weighed. Several large donations of furniture to Habitat for Humanity were also weighed on the trucks.
- Reduction programs such as the Eco-Container and Lug-A-Mug programs through Food Services began reporting measurements for the number of uses in 2018. These were multiplied against average weights for plastic take-out containers and paper coffee cups, respectively.
Diversion rate is calculated as follows, with each variable in terms of weight:
(ReducedorAvoided+ReusedorDonated +Recycled+OrganicsDiverted) / TotalWeightofallMaterialsGenerated (IncludingLandfill)
Recent actions and accomplishments
- Green Residence volunteers built on the success of the organics collection pilot at UWP
- 4RepairKW launched the Repair Hub to continue building a culture
of repair on campus
- More than 200 people attended the inaugural Zero Waste Fair to engage with campus
partners on waste reduction initiatives
- WUSA launched the Thrift Store, creating a new space for students to buy and return gently used clothing
- Campus Housing launched a wildly successful move-out program during winter move-out to recover a large portion of items, and offered them to incoming students at a free upcycle pop-up during fall term move-in. Nearly 13,500 lbs of donated items were given away
- Plant Operations - Campus Services and the Sustainability Office hosted inaugural Zero Waste Fair to showcase waste reduction programs and initiatives across campus
Historic actions and accomplishments
- Launched new Shift:Zero Sorting App to improve student and employee sorting efforts
- Launched PPE recycling program, with support from the Sustainability Action Fund
- Began preliminary efforts to track construction and demolition waste through capital projects
- Campus Housing and the Sustainability Office began an organic waste collection pilot in UWP
- The Sustainability Office hosted virtual Zero Waste Week programming
- Completed library waste receptacle fit-out
- Standardized waste receptacles and centralized sorting were completed for TC, EV1, EV2, EV3, and RCH
- The Sustainability Office hosted virtual Zero Waste Week programming
- New waste hauling contract began in January 2019
- Math 3 became first building to fully implement centralized waste sorting
- Began collection of monthly building-level waste data
- Campus Housing hosted move-out program in
- The Sustainability Office hosted Zero Waste Week activities
- Shift:Zero Action Plan developed
- Completed annual audit with Waste Reduction Group
- Procured Clean River as standardized recycling bin provider
- Developed standardized recycling program
- Tendered and awarded new waste hauling contract for waste, recycling, cardboard, paper, and organics to Waste Connections of Canada; includes future waste audits
- Launched standardized bins with organics in food service areas
- Launched standardized bins in outdoor areas
- Began tracking all surplus sale and furniture donation statistics through Central Stores
- Expanded eco-container program to all residence cafeterias
- Food Services phased out plastic straws
- The Sustainability Office hosted annual Zero Waste Week activities
- Created Waste Working Group in December to bring together all stakeholders
- Completed annual waste audit with Waste Reduction Group
- Hired Environmental Services Manager
- The Sustainability Office hosted annual Zero Waste Week activities, including mason jar challenge, sorting quiz, sorting challenge, and waste mountain
Explore more of Waterloo's progress: