A record 605 colleges and universities competed in the 12th annual iteration of the RecycleMania Tournament, which ran for eight weeks in February and March. The competition calls on students, faculty and staff to increase on-campus recycling rates in an effort to best 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. 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, according to event organizers. 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. Top schools in each category earn bragging rights and are recognized with an award made from recycled materials. The colleges and universities that took home top prizes in the three primary categories were:
- Grand Champion: American University, Washington, which recycled 85.16 percent of its overall waste.
- Per Capita Classic: Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., which collected 61.79 pounds (lbs.) of recyclables per person.
- Waste Minimization: Valencia College, Orlando, Fla., which achieved the lowest overall amount of recyclables and trash per person at 2.79 lbs.
For the second consecutive year RecycleMania organizers sought to pique student enthusiasm for the event by holding a concurrent amateur video contest on YouTube. The contest saw 28 entries on the theme, “The Spirit of Recycling. ” A 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., in a press release. “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 Co., 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 U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise program and the College and University Recycling Coalition (CURC). For the full results of the competition, go to http://recyclemaniacs.org/scoreboard.