It’s not a football game or a fraternity war. This is collegiate competition at its greenest. Universities across the U.S. are in full swing of a 10-week recycling competition called RecycleMania. RecycleMania started at Miami University and Ohio University in 2001. These two schools began the friendly recycling competition and Miami University triumphed. Each year the competition grew, and in 2004 RecycleMania partnered with the EPA’s WasteWise program, further increasing the competition’s popularity.
Miami University was the inaugural RecycleMania winner, and has been a leader ever since.
This year’s competition is the biggest one yet; so far 607 schools have registered to compete. The race began on January 17 and schools have until March 27 to prove they are the greenest university around. Schools are divided into two separate divisions to level the playing field. The Competition Division participants are actively tracking their weekly recycling data. The Benchmark Division participants can track their data, but are bound to less formal rules. Different areas of competition allow for more winners and more flexibility in focus. The Grand Champion prize goes to the school with the highest recycling rate compared to its waste. The Stephen K. Glasi Per Capita Classic rewards the university with the most recycled materials per capita. The school that records the lowest total waste per capita, including trash and recycling, receives the Waste Minimization award. Bigger schools may be contenders for the Gorilla Prize; this award goes to the school with the highest volume of recycled materials, regardless of population. The Targeted Materials prize involves four categories of specific materials. Schools can win in the following areas: most paper recycled per capita, most corrugated cardboard recycled per capita, most bottles and cans recycled per capita and most food service organics per capita (including compostable dinnerware, pre- and post-consumer food waste, etc.). Category winners will receive awards made from recycled materials.

Schools up the ante

The George Washington University has some exciting RecycleMania events scheduled. One basketball game will focus on recycling by having a halftime recycling relay race and recycling trivia questions. Resident hall advisors will be “dorm storming” by knocking on doors and collecting recycling from students. Students can also participate in the eco treasure hunt and follow the clues to find a prize. GW graduate student Jessica Bryant says her school promotes recycling by making it easy. “There are bins designated for recycling glass, paper and aluminum all over campus. The library seems to do a good job of encouraging students to recycle paper in large containers in and around printing and copying areas.” Jay Price, Environmental Coordinator from the University of Tennessee, says this is the fifth year the Volunteers have competed in RecycleMania. To encourage students to recycle more, UT’s personal goal in the competition is to beat one of their main athletic rivals, the University of Florida. For the first week of RecycleMania, the Volunteers have done just that. The school’s efforts include obtaining recycling bins for every classroom, storming residence halls to gather recycling door to door, including recycling results weekly in the student newspaper and creating a competition for recycling between campus residence halls.