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Environmental Protection & Preservation

RecycleMania 2007 Spurs College Campuses to Score Big for the 'Green Team'

The ruckus heard across college campuses this spring was not just due to the NCAA championship games. It was also RecycleMania season. Every spring, students across the country become RecycleManiacs competing for national supremacy to determine which school could reduce, reuse and recycle the most campus waste.

From January 27 to April 7, this 10-week challenge ignites classic college rivalries, rallying students, faculty and staff to increase on-campus recycling rates beyond their collegiate competitors. RecycleMania wrapped up its 2007 college recycling contest in early April, with over 41,370,000 pounds of recyclables and organics recovered from 201 colleges and universities across the country.

"When RecycleMania season is upon us, the entire university community gets pumped up for recycling," said Marcy Bauer, former Environmental Education Coordinator, Miami University. "It helps connect the simple act of putting a can in a bin with a sense of collegiate pride."

The spirit of friendly competition sparked huge environmental gains. The total amount of recyclables and organic materials recovered during the 2007 competition prevented the release of 15,583 metric tons of carbon equivalent (MTCE). In real world terms, this reduction in green house gases is equivalent to eliminating the impact caused in a year by 12,367 passenger cars; electric generation to power 7,335 households; or the consumption of 6,507,707 gallons of gasoline.

"Clearly we see results that show RecycleMania spurs environmental awareness," says Kate Krebs, executive director of National Recycling Coalition (NRC). "The competition frames resource conservation in a way that resonates -- and inspires -- students to increase their recycling practices on and off campus." Rob Gogan, Recycling and Waste Manager at Harvard University, agrees. "Colleges are naturally competitive with their rivals. RecycleMania hitches the recycling and conservation bandwagon to that powerful energy," says Gogan.

"RecycleMania helps students rethink their waste," said Scott Vitters, Director of Sustainable Packaging, The Coca-Cola Company. "Coca-Cola is a proud sponsor of the RecycleMania program. Through the course of the competition, they learn to recognize that bottles, cans, cardboard, and paper are valuable recyclable materials."

Matt Hale, director, Office of Solid Waste, agrees. "Schools can reduce their disposal costs and even generate revenues from the recovered recyclable materials," notes Hale.

Schools that participate in both the "Per Capita Classic," which measures the largest amount of recyclables per person, and the "Waste Minimization" competition, which tracks the lowest amount of waste per person, can earn the title of RecycleMania "Grand Champion." This year, Cal State San Marcos clocked a recycling rate of 59.94 percent and was crowned the RecycleMania "Grand Champion" for excelling in source reduction, waste prevention and recycling.

The "Per Capita Classic" top three finalists, determined by pounds of recyclables collected per person, are:
  • Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University (101.12 pounds) - Palisades, New York
  • Sheldon Jackson College (93.21 pounds) - Sitka, Alaska
  • Kalamazoo College (75.03 pounds) - Kalamazoo, Michigan

The "Waste Minimization" top three finalists, determined by the lowest amount of waste (recyclables and trash) per person, are:
  • University of Texas at Austin (31.97 pounds)
  • City College San Francisco (33.58 pounds)
  • Colorado State University (38.14 pounds)
Other RecycleMania contests include the "Gorilla Prize," for the highest gross tonnage of recyclables; and four "Targeted Material" contests -- one each for paper, corrugated cardboard, bottles and cans, and food and associated compostable waste such as napkins and paper towels that are collected from food service areas for recycling (food service organics), per person. Top rankings follow.

  • Rutgers University (2,742,869 pounds) -- New Brunswick, New Jersey
Targeted Material (pounds per person)
  • Paper: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University (89.96 pounds) - Palisades, New York
  • Cardboard: West Los Angeles College (50.35 pounds) - California
  • Bottles and Cans: Kalamazoo College (24.64 pounds) - Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Food Service Organics: Rutgers University (71.2 pounds) - New Brunswick, New Jersey
Winning schools earn "bragging rights" and special awards made out of recycled materials.

RecycleMania is supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WasteWise program and the National Recycling Coalition (NRC), and is coordinated as a project of NRC's College and University Recycling Council (CURC). The competition is endorsed by the National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology Program. The Coca-Cola Company is a major sponsor of RecycleMania.

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