MARCH 2010

Over 600 colleges vie to reduce, reuse and recycle

RecycleMania began in mid January for a 10 week period. Running parallel to the college basketball season, colleges and universities are participating in a competition that increases recycling participation by students and staff, and raises awareness about the significance of waste reduction programs on campuses.

From January 17 through March 27, 607 schools representing 49 states, the District of Columbia and Canada will compete in 8 categories to see who recycles the most on a per capita basis, who produces the least amount of waste and who recycles the largest percentage of their overall waste stream. Colleges and universities choose to participate in either the formal competition which ranks them based on standardized weight measurements, or as part of the less formal “Benchmark” division. In both cases, schools submit weight data for paper, cardboard, cans and bottles, food waste and general trash each week, and are in turn able to see how they measure up against each other in the continuously updated results.

Indeed, RecycleMania is about more than simply winning. It is an opportunity for schools to raise awareness of their campus recycling programs as well as waste reduction and conservation issues in general. And, of course, it’s also about simply recycling more. In 2009, 510 participating colleges and universities collected over 69.4 million pounds of recyclables and compostable organics.

The RecycleMania competition began in 2001 as a challenge between Miami University of Ohio and Ohio University. Today, it is independently owned and governed by the RecycleMania Steering Committee, which is made up of recycling managers from five participating universities.

The 2010 RecycleMania competition is administered by national nonprofit KAB in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise program. The competition is made possible with the sponsorship support of The Coca-Cola Company, KAB and the American Forest & Paper Association.

RecycleMania has grown to 607 colleges and universities this year, increasing by almost 100 the number of participating schools from 2009. These colleges and universities represent more than five million students, and 1.3 million faculty and staff from 49 states, the District of Columbia and Canada.

The states with the most participants include Pennsylvania (52), Texas (42), Massachusetts (42), California (40) and New York (37). The list of institutions taking part is diverse, ranging from Brigham Young University to Yale University to Labette Community College in Parsons, Kansas. RecycleMania 2010 will include all 12 of the athletic Southeastern Conference universities as well as the 8 campuses that make up the Los Angeles Community College system.