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RecycleMania kicks off 2013 recycling competition

RecycleMania is back in action as college campuses compete to see who can reduce, reuse and recycle the most on-campus waste. For an eight week period, running alongside the NCAA basketball tournament, colleges and universities take part in a competition that increases recycling participation by students and staff, while raising awareness about waste reduction programs on campuses.

RecycleMania will run through March 30, 2013, with the involvement of 523 schools, more than 4.4 million students, and nearly 1 million faculty and staff participating in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. New York has the best representation with 38 colleges participating, followed by Texas and Pennsylvania. The list of institutions taking part is diverse, ranging from Tulane University to Washington State University to Harrisburg Area Community College in Pennsylvania.

Schools compete in 11 categories to see which can recycle the most paper, cardboard, cans and bottles, and food waste on a per capita basis; which can produce the least amount of waste; and which recycles the largest percentage of their overall waste stream. In one of two new categories – Game Day: Basketball – schools are challenged to increase their recycling and reduce waste generation at a single home basketball game. A second new category targeting film plastics will call attention to the recyclability of items such as dry cleaning bags, shrink wrap and shopping bags.

Colleges and universities choose which categories to participate in and have flexibility to compete in the formal rankings or go at their own pace in a less formal “Benchmark” division. Each week schools record how much was recycled or thrown out and the standings are regularly updated.

In 2012, 92 million lbs. of recyclables and organic materials were recovered, which prevented the release of nearly 150,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. This reduction in greenhouse gases is comparable to the annual emissions from more than 25,800 passenger cars; electricity use of more than nearly 16,400 homes; or the burning of nearly 705 railcars’ worth of coal.