Breath of Clarity

Report Draft Workshop Comments

Original Post by Amanda Hughes:

Attached is my draft for peer-review. I welcome the feedback and suggestions!

My Comment:

Hi Amanda,

Writer’s Purpose

The purpose is effective as it addresses the waste management problem within the Reynolds American (Reynolds) corporate office. It achieved its purpose of conducting the research to “identify potential solutions, including the costs and benefits associated with the application of these solutions, as well as success stories from other organizations”. The development of the solution and evaluation sections leads to achieving the ultimate intended aim to recommend implementation of a successful multi-component recycling program.

Research: 8/10

Great job following the rubric considering that your “research is in-depth and beyond the obvious, most basic websites”. The sources all came from credible websites and journals as well as provided your report with interesting perspectives. The variety in types of sources was crucial in creating effective solution and evaluation sections.

I took off two points because only most of the sources are current. For example, some are from 2011, 2007, and 2010. I suggest don’t use ones over 10 years old.

Executive Summary: 4/10

First of all, according to the feedback I received from Keith on my Report Draft, I recommend removing the phrases that say “the purpose of this report is […]”, “this report also evaluates” and “the report also includes”. He said “try to avoid describing the paper or what it does. Just say what you want to say. Summarize the problem or issue and the response and don’t describe the paper”. I took an additional half point off for this.

I also suggest expanding your definition of the waste management problem. Your second sentence jumps into talking about the solution which detracts from the overall executive summary’s organization because you’re going back to discussing the problem at the end of the third sentence. Instead, I recommend placing the third sentence before the second sentence. Even so, the statistic “in 2021, more than 95% of the waste generated in the corporate office was sent to the landfill” is the only information included about the problem. While I understand Reynolds does not recycle, I am not introduced to why the lack of recycling is problematic aside from the issue it presents with not hitting the sustainability target. That said, I would add more information to make a clear synopsis of the problem. Great job of packing in a lot of useful details into a short amount of space to throughly convey the solution/evaluation. Great idea to mention the cost-benefit analysis in the summary so that the audience is aware that finances are still being valued. Considering how Reynolds can learn from HRM, Biogen and Walmart is effective. Still, it is difficult to determine which aspects of the summary are in regard to the solution versus the evaluation. Organizing the summary into three parts would clarify it. Since the synopsis of the problem is not adequate but the synopsis of the solution/evaluation is particularly strong, I gave you a score of 5/10.

I also recommend writing shorter, concise sentences to make the information more clear. For example, I would change the beginning of the summary to: “Waste management is a major problem within the Reynolds American (Reynolds) corporate office. In 2021, more than 95% of the waste generated in the corporate office was sent to the landfill. British American Tobacco (BAT), the parent company of Reynolds, has set a sustainability target of being zero-waste to landfill by 2025. Research was conducted to identify potential solutions, including the costs and benefits associated with the application of these solutions, as well as success stories from other organizations.” I took an additional half point off for this because it interferes with clarity.

Problem Definition: 4/10

In terms of the rubric, the section “adequately defines the problem and includes details indicating the significance of the problem but may not fully establish the significance”. Since the problem is clearly in regard to waste management at Reynolds but is not fully developed, I gave you a score of 5/10. To my understanding, the problem has three parts.

Part 1 is that Reynolds has not yet hit its zero-waste to landfill by 2025 target. Is there any additional way to communicate significance of the problem? Why should we care and be motivated to recycle aside from the desire to hit the target? A general explanation of how recycling is destructive to the planet would be useful. The report could also benefit from explaining the consequences of not hitting the target. The first two sentences in the solution description section would fit better in the problem definition section as a component of Part 1.

Part 2 is that, in 2021 alone, 70.2 tons of waste were collected from the corporate office by Republic Services, with only 4.63% of this waste being recycled (Republic Services 2021). I need some context to understand the significance of the numbers. Perhaps, what are various causes of the reality presented in the statistic that can be addressed in the solution?

I do not see the statistic about employees working from home as effective. The percentage of waste being recycled is more pertinent to the argument compared to the quantity of total waste. That said, the percentage of waste being recycled would not be impacted by whether or not people are working from home. I suggest removing the sentence about people working from home because it gets even more confusing when you reference the inconsistent instructions at home impacting office waste after just mentioning that people were not even going from home to the office. Then, I figure that Part 3 of the problem is that instructions for recycling programs are inconsistent which is ultimately leading to more non-recycled waste at the office. I recommend using more appropriate diction in the description of the “inconsistencies” because then it’s confusing as you’re saying that “similar findings emerged” in a variety of local cities and counties. The last sentence of this section’s second paragraph is a good transition into the solution section.

I suggest deleting the final paragraph, “The remainder of this report discusses the potential solutions to eliminate waste in the Reynolds corporate office as well as an evaluation of these solutions including results from other organizations, what Reynolds can learn from the success of other companies, a cost-benefit analysis, and the next steps that Reynolds should take to address its waste problem” because the executive summary should take care of providing that overview of the paper. I took off one additional point for it.

Solution Description: 10/10

In terms of the rubric, the section “effectively describes the solution, how it works, its components, and/or a plan for its development or implementation”. Your content is stellar. The argument in this section logically flows and builds upon itself. You outlined its components in a framework that showed how they function in tandem and then gave examples of how to implement it at Reynolds. The room for improvement in this section does not interfere with how effective the solution is. I scored this section a 10/10.

Great idea to begin with introducing the circular economy mindset as it provides a great overview of the entire solution section. Your flow of ideas is particularly strong. For example, amazing transition into setting the focus of implementing recycling program as a piece of the puzzle in the life cycle. Then, there is a smooth transition from step 1 to step 2 as the link is participation. Since the topic of step 2 is participation, I would take the coordinator out of its paragraph’s topic sentence. Instead, it should read “Step two in implementing a recycling program is encouraging participation. It starts with the identification of a program coordinator. The coordinator should be someone who is dedicated to the recycling program and excited about the company’s sustainability initiatives.” The statistic about the placement of recycling bins is effective. Phenomenal transition between step 2 and step 3 as the link is education about recycling. I recommend having a stronger transitions between steps 3 and 4 as well as between steps 4 and 5 because they are currently quite abrupt. This statement, “Research has found that a primary reason that non-recyclers do not recycle is due to lack of clarity over what is recyclable, potentially due to “inadequate facilities or a lack of signage or a misunderstanding of the information presented” (Price and Pitt 2012, 629)” may go better in the problem definition section.

Evaluation: 8/10

In terms of the rubric, the section “clearly defines factors critical for the solution’s success, analyzes the advantages and drawbacks of the solution, and offers persuasive evidence that the solution is the most effective one for the problem defined”. I scored this section an 8/10. The first paragraph of the evaluation provides a clear overview of the section. Using results from other organizations to show advantages of the solution was a creative route to take. However, I am wondering how relatable the results from other organizations are to the Reynolds scenario. Expanding upon how Unilever and General Motors have seen annual savings of more than $1 million from achieving zero-waste to landfill would make the argument even stronger. Additionally, “Unilever also committed to reduce its use of plastic packaging by over 100,000 tons including increasing its use of recycled plastics” which is not part of the proposed solution for Reynolds. Perhaps the paragraph about Unilever and General Motors would be a better fit in the solutions description as it would explain ideas Reynolds could implement. Also, it would be more useful to insert the section about Biogen’s involvement with nonprofits in the solutions section as a specific example of how Reynolds can partner with nonprofits. Then, the studies published in the Journal for a Sustainable Circular Economy and United Kingdom would be better suited for the assessment section to communicate the factors critical for the solution’s success. Your depiction of the costs in the cost-benefit analysis was a strategic way to address the drawbacks of the solution. I am left with no doubt that Reynolds would benefit from a waste management program. Still, I am left unsure whether the outlined solution is the best out of all options for waste management programs. The Results from Other Organizations section brought confusion to the argument. The next steps portion is slightly redundant as it reviews points already outlined in the solution description. At the same time, you still satisfied requirements of the evaluation section in the assessment portion.

Audience and Genre Awareness: 5/10

In terms of the rubric, the section “demonstrates adequate consideration of the chosen audience in professional field across the entire paper while also applying adequate culturally relevant nuances”. I know the report was generally written to the Reynolds management staff. However, the tone is appropriate in terms of degree of formality. You have a great understanding of the level of technical terminology appropriate for the audience and make sure to highlight the cost-benefit analysis to show how a waste management program is ultimately lucrative for Reynolds. Being a corporate entity, the financial factor will be crucial at the end of the day. Still, I do not notice any extra added elements that goes above and beyond adequately considering the audience.

Mechanics, Grammar, and Formatting: 5/5

In terms of the rubric, “punctuation, spelling, capitalization, and grammar are correct throughout. [The report] adheres to UCOL Formatting Guidelines [as well as] demonstrates proper use of Turabian author-date formatting for citations and reference list entries”. I recommend focusing on editing the grammar to bring more clarity to the sentences. Focus on making them more concise and having more shorter sentences. Also, complete a round of edits specifically aiming to remove redundancy. Good idea differentiating the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in-text citations with “2021a” and “2021b” as it aligned with Turabian section

Originality of Thought and Design: 8/10

The idea to implement a waste management program is not necessarily original. However, it is presented in such a way that, in terms of the rubric, “has appropriate depth and breadth for a paper of this length”. Additionally, the central purpose is extremely apparent to the reader and I admire your decision to select a paper topic that involves advocating for changes to lessen the environmental footprint of the company you’re working for. I recommend considering how you can enhance pathos considering your knowledge of the internal experience at the company. The step-by-step framework of the solution and the cost-benefit analysis in the evaluation was a smart, original design that brought immense value to the report.

Side Note: I recommend making the title argumentative as opposed to keeping it as the neutral “Reducing Waste Within the Reynolds American Corporate Office”

Comment by Amanda Hughes:

Hi Mary,

Thank you for the feedback!! Breaking this down into smaller nuggets so that I can process more thoroughly, so please forgive my potential multiple posts. Additional questions and feedback as I work through this will be very helpful.

My title is definitely a working title / placeholder….trying to come up with something catchy!! lol like “The “Trash” on Trash within Reynolds American” that is extremely corny, but I hope that conveys what my end goal is there.

Executive Summary: I received similar feedback from Keith and will incorporate feedback into my final.

Problem Definition: Providing some clarity around some of the data or information that I included to hopefully get some additional feedback on how to better incorporate, since it did not make sense to you when you read it.

Part 1: I did not intend for the zero waste target to be inclusive in the problem, just as additional information as to why our waste management issues are a problem.

Part 2 and 3: to answer address question and statements, and hopefully clear up some confusion…Perhaps, what are various causes of the reality presented in the statistic that can be addressed in the solution? as well as, the statements regarding working from home and recycling at home

I provided the information about the #s of people working from home as context on why this number is such a big deal. 70 tons of waste in a year, when a building is at only 15% capacity for 3/4 of the year is a very large number.

I included the information about recycling at home is because the requirements at home all differ from the requirements in our office, which leads to contamination that leads to the office recycling having to go to landfill and not be recycled

I will be sure to better explain why these pieces are included, as they are important to defining the problem in our office. I agree that the last paragraph could come out and the final sentence in the 2nd paragraph is a good transition. I think habit of say what you are going to talk about, talk about it, then summarize it again was in my head when writing the last paragraph.

Solution Description: Thank you for the feedback and recommendations, I will work to incorporate them and don’t have any questions.

My Comment:

Hi Amanda,

Great idea to create a title based upon conveying the end goal.

In terms of the problem definition, great idea to focus on providing clarity.

For example, is there a way to show 70 tons of waste in a year is a particularly large number by, perhaps, comparing it to another company’s annual tons of waste statistic? Giving context would help bring some relativity to the situation and therefore clarify the significance of 70 tons of waste in a year.

Also, simply inserting into the paper the reasoning for providing the information about the # of people working from home and reasoning regarding including information about recycling at home would help clarify the connection. Perhaps, the problem definition also just needs to be filled out with transitions.

Let me know if there are any other specific areas that you’re looking to receive feedback on.

All the best,


Comment by Amanda Hughes:

Hi Mary,

Working through incorporating your feedback. Does the below help to clarify / further develop the problem? FYI, I did not include the beginning of the problem description where I am giving background context to the company and our goals.

Though the company has established several goals to reduce its environmental footprint, a major one is to be zero-waste to landfill in all facilities by 2025 (BAT 2020). In order to achieve this goal, the Reynolds corporate office must address its waste management problem. In 2021 alone, and with most employees working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 70.2 tons of waste were collected from the corporate office by Republic Services. Of the total waste collected, only 4.63% was recycled (Republic Services 2021). Employees, contractors, and facilities maintenance staff have all returned to the office full-time in 2022, with the option to work remotely two days per week. This means that on average approximately 17,000 to 29,000 lbs. of waste will be generated each week, based on the fact that an individual produces around 4.40 lbs. of waste per day (Deer 2021).

In addition to the large amount of waste being generated in the corporate office, the process of managing that waste via recycling is a complex subject. This was proven by the Centralized Study on Availability of Recycling, which “examined recycling programs in more than 2,000 communities across the United States” and found that the instructions for the local recycling programs are quite inconsistent with regard to what can and cannot be recycled (Gendell 2016). This adds to the complexities of Reynolds’ waste problem. The Reynolds corporate office is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and there is an established recyclables list from Republic Services. However, employees live in many different cities and counties that all have varying household waste recycling programs that do not align with Republic Services, and employees typically recycle in the office the same things they can recycle at home (City of Burlington nd; Davidson County nd; Davie County nd; Forsyth County nd; Guilford County nd; Randolph County nd; Rockingham County nd; Stokes County nd; Surry County nd; and Yadkin County nd). In 2018, “the average contamination rate among communities and businesses” was approximately 25%, which means that roughly 1 out of every 4 items in a recycling bin were not recyclable (Bell 2018). When recyclables are identified as contaminated, they do not go through the materials recovery facility (MRF) and instead get diverted to the landfill. Multiple studies of organizations have found that implementing a recycling program and incorporating sustainability practices into policies can aid in the adoption of pro-environmental behaviors (PEB) by employees and reduce waste generation.

My Comment:

Hi Amanda,

Yes, I am so glad to see that you’re incorporating the feedback!

The new version of the problem shows exactly how the employees being back in the office translates into additional generated waste. A small edit I would recommend is changing “This means” to “As a result, on average, approximately […]” to make the tone more formal. The topic sentence of your second paragraph is a strong transition into the next element of the problem. It also shows how recycling in communities relates to the dominant argument regarding the Reynolds office.

In order to tighten the argument’s organization even more, consider waiting to reveal “Of the total waste collected, only 4.63% was recycled” until the second sentence of the second paragraph. That way, the first paragraph can completely be about waste generation and the second paragraph can be about managing the waste via recycling. I also suggest rephrasing “This was proven” to “For instance, the Centralized Study on Availability on Recycling investigated recycling programs in over 2,000 communities across the country and proved that […] (Gendell 2016)”. Additionally, I suggest rephrasing “This adds” to “The study demonstrates the complexities […]”. The rest of the second paragraph clarifies how inconsistent instructions for recycling at home impacts the waste management problem at Reynolds. Comparing the established recyclables list to the varying household waste recycling programs was incredibly useful. Well done!

Comment by Amanda Hughes:

Second portion of questions

Evaluation: I am a bit confused by the below sentence in the evaluation section of your write-up, because while yes I discussed a solution, the next steps for Reynolds are to implement the solution and what we will do to implement it, so shouldn’t it be a little redundant?

“The next steps portion is slightly redundant as it reviews points already outlined in the solution description.”

Audience and Genre Awareness: You gave me a 5/10 and I am not sure why. For a 10 the rubric states “Content and writing is directed to chosen audience in professional field across the entire paper while also applying any culturally relevant nuances.” Your write-up supports this, but you added “Still, I do not notice any extra added elements that goes above and beyond adequately considering the audience.” I am not sure what extra added elements you mean, as the requirement it to ensure that my content and writing are directed to my chosen audience across the entire paper. Can you elaborate?

Originality of Thought and Design: I don’t disagree that the idea to implement a waste management program isn’t highly original, but we have to start somewhere in our journey. Regarding the recommendation to consider pathos, are you meaning within the paper itself or with the implementation of the program and the education of employees? The reason I ask is because the company’s management team isn’t about the emotions and pulling on heartstrings, they want the facts and hard data.

My Comment:

Hi Amanda,

Evaluation: Here is the rubric’s description for full credit in the evaluation section- “clearly defines factors critical for the solution’s success. Analyzes the advantages and drawbacks of the solution. Offers persuasive evidence that the solution is the most effective one for the problem defined”.

To my understanding, it should not be redundant. It is possible to explain the next steps with new information as opposed to reiterating the solution. Also, the report rubric calls for a description of the solution and plan for its implementation all to be in the solution section. Instead, your evaluation needs to focus more upon explaining why the specific solution and implementation that you selected for Reynolds is the most effective one for the company’s waste management problem.

Audience and Genre Awareness: I gave you a 5/10 because you adequately considered the chosen audience by writing it to the Reynolds company in general. However, directing it to a chosen audience may involve addressing a specific department within the company and writing statements that demonstrate awareness of the genre. The paper does not apply any culturally relevant nuances other than being formal and focusing on financials. It would be useful to make statements that show you’re an employee at the company by perhaps connecting to the audience through demonstrating insider knowledge.

Originality of Thought and Design: Given that implementing a waste management program is not highly original, consider how to creatively incorporate originality in other ways throughout the paper. For example, consider ways to make the paper more specific to Reynolds as opposed to any company in general. Since pathos is a rhetorical appeal, I am meaning within the paper itself. The powerpoint slides from this course’s week 3 module provided the chart below. It shows that you’re still able to consider pathos by enhancing the argument’s diction to help establish a stronger connection between the writer and audience. It also involves making decisions to put emphasis/details on particular elements of the report.

Comment by Amanda Hughes:

It is not written to the company “in general.” It is directed to our VP of Sustainability and Sustainability Executive Committee (SEC), which is comprised of top leadership from Finance, Operations, Legal, Human Resources, and Marketing. As I know each of them and what would appeal to them, it may seem generally written since I have connect with many different opinions and priorities.

I would also argue that I include several pieces of information and utilize diction that indicate that I am an employee and appealing to my audience, including information about our building structure, the number of employees/contractors/facilities staff, as well as our performance goals process, and references to our RAMT. These elements are not publicly available, thereby making it very clear that I am an employee.

My Comment:

Hi Amanda,

Glad to hear the audience is specifically the VP of Sustainability and Sustainability Executive Committee (SEC). Knowing each of them is definitely a major advantage as the writer. It is awesome that you’re appealing to them considering there are many different opinions and priorities. Knowing the audience’s personal needs and motivations is useful in convincing them of the argument. I had no idea that it was not written to the company in general. So, perhaps, addressing specific components of SEC in the sections of the paper that you’re respectively directing towards the positions is useful.

It is great that you’re including information indicating you’re an employee. Particularly, recognizing permanence goals and processes, as well as referring to the RAMT, shows you’re valuing the initiatives the audience already has in place. Being one of the employees has empowered your ability to have strong logos. To go one step further, I recommend considering how you’re able to leverage being one of the employees in order to enhance pathos.

I have noticed your awesome diligence this quarter, and I am wishing you well!

All the best,


Comment by Amanda Hughes:

Thank you!! I truly appreciate all of your feedback, recommendations, and additional clarity as I asked questions to make my final report be the best it can be!