Over 600 College Campuses Compete to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

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RecycleMania Kicks Off Another Season of Green Team Pride

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RecycleMania helps students rethink their waste

RecycleMania springs back into action as college campuses compete to see who can reduce, reuse and recycle the most on-campus waste. For a 10-week period, beginning in mid-January and running parallel to the college basketball season, colleges and universities take part in an exciting 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, 2010, 607 schools representing 49 states, the District of Columbia and Canada will compete in eight 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.

“RecycleMania’s success comes from its ability to use competitive spirit and campus rivalries to motivate students who are less likely to respond to ‘save the earth’ kinds of messages,” according to Stacy Wheeler, co-founder of the RecycleMania competition.

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. This prevented the release of 88,739 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E) into the atmosphere.

“The ability to energize students about recycling while tapping into the friendly competition between schools is the magic of RecycleMania,” said Ed Skernolis, vice president/recycling, Keep America Beautiful (KAB). “Quantifying how much material can be collected for recycling and composting from a campus community enlightens not only the students and faculty, but helps the administration understand the positive environmental and economic impact that increased recycling can have on a university.”

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 U.S. 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 helps students rethink their waste,” said Scott Vitters, director of sustainable packaging at The Coca-Cola Company. “Coca-Cola is a proud sponsor of the RecycleMania program. Through the course of the competition, students learn to recognize that bottles, cans, cardboard, and paper are valuable recyclable materials.”

Each year of the event brings fresh, new faces to the competition. As Harvard University’s Recycling and Waste Manager Rob Gogan noted, “Colleges are naturally competitive with their rivals. RecycleMania hitches the recycling and conservation bandwagon to that powerful energy.”

Who’s Participating This Year

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 eight campuses that make up the Los Angeles Community College system.

A complete list of participants can be found at http://recyclemaniacs.org/universities.asp. Contact information for specific campuses is available to news media by calling (843) 278 7686 or emailing helpline(at)recyclemaniacs(dot)org.

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