The ruckus heard across college campuses this spring was not just because of the NCAA collegiate basketball tournaments. It was also RecycleMania season at 605 colleges and universities. The RecycleMania Tournament, which wrapped up its 12th annual competition at the end of March, is an eight-week challenge that ignites classic college rivalries, rallying students, faculty and staff to increase on-campus recycling rates beyond their collegiate competitors.
This year, 92 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials were recovered, which prevented the release of nearly 150,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E). This reduction in greenhouse gases is equivalent to the annual emissions from more than 25,840 passenger cars; electricity use of more than nearly 16,406 homes; or the burning of nearly 705 railcars’ worth of coal. Equally impressive, the average recycling rate for participating schools increased from 27.61 percent to 28.49 percent over the course of the tournament.
The competition, which extended from Feb. 5 through March 31, included eight categories. The colleges and universities that took home top prizes in the three primary categories are:
“Grand Champion” (determined by the percentage of overall waste recycled): American University- (85.16 percent) – Washington, D.C.
“Per Capita Classic” (determined by total pounds of recyclables collected per person): Union College- (61.79 lbs.) – Schenectady, N.Y.
“Waste Minimization” (determined by the lowest overall amount of recyclables and trash per person): Valencia College – (2.79 lbs.) – Orlando, Fla.
To increase student enthusiasm RecycleMania held its second annual video contest with the theme “The Spirit of Recycling.” With the public invited to vote for their favorite from among the 28 videos posted to YouTube, the student submission from Florida State University garnered the most “likes” to win first prize followed by East Tennessee State University. Clemson University’s video received the Judges’ Award.
“One unique aspect of RecycleMania is that everyone is a competitor,” noted Bill Rudy, recycling coordinator at Brigham Young University and chair of RecycleMania, Inc. “No one sits on the sidelines. When students recycle, they add to their score, and if they throw something away, it hurts their school’s ranking. With the whole campus in the game, the competitive spirit spreads and recycling increases.”
The RecycleMania Tournament is an independent program of RecycleMania, Inc., a nonprofit organization led by recycling managers from participating schools. The competition is made possible with the sponsorship support of the Alcoa Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company, SCA AfH Professional Hygiene, Waste Management, the American Forest & Paper Association and HP. Program management is provided by Keep America Beautiful with additional program support from the US EPA’s WasteWise program and the College and University Recycling Coalition (CURC).
“Colleges and their students are leading the way towards a more sustainable future, and RecycleMania is a perfect demonstration of their energy and commitment,” said Matt McKenna, president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful. “KAB is pleased to support the RecycleMania program. We celebrate this year’s results and congratulate every school and individual that participated.”
“We’re proud to support RecycleMania and congratulate all the students for taking small, but meaningful actions to preserve the planet,” said Paula Davis, president, Alcoa Foundation. “In the U.S., we have an enormous opportunity to improve our environmental footprint by recycling more of what we consume. When recycled, a can of soda is back on the shelf in just 60 days.”
“Everyone wins when we all recycle,” said Alain Robichaud, president of Coca-Cola Recycling. “Congratulations to all the students who helped protect the environment and conserve natural resources by recycling during RecycleMania. Coca-Cola is proud to help bring this exciting program to college campuses around the country and remind students about the good things that happen when they recycle.”
Joseph Russo, vice president sales & marketing for SCA’s North American away from home professional hygiene business, said, “We are proud to sponsor RecycleMania, and we share students’ commitment to protecting the environment. We urge all universities to evaluate how they can increase sustainability while keeping students and faculty happy, healthy and thriving in the classroom.”
“RecycleMania is an incredible opportunity for Waste Management to energize and educate this broad audience of college students, faculty and staff about our efforts to triple the amount of recyclable materials nationwide by the year 2020,” said Waste Management Vice President Paul Pistono. “As a company committed to extracting the most value possible from all of the materials we manage, we continue to look for ways to help our customers with cost-efficient, environmental solutions and improving recycling rates at higher education institutions.”
Top schools in each category earn “bragging rights,” while the winners of each are recognized with an award made from recycled materials. For the full results of the competition, go to recyclemaniacs.org/scoreboard.
About RecycleManiaRecycleMania was launched in 2001 as a friendly challenge between Ohio University and Miami University to increase recycling on their campuses. The contest has expanded from two schools in 2001 to 605 colleges and universities in 2012 spanning all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and the U.K. Over an eight-week period, campuses compete to see which institution can collect the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate. For complete competition background and details, visit the RecycleMania website at recyclemaniacs.org.
Sources: PR Newswire and RecycleMania