(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – More than forty universities around the country joined in this years Recyclemania competition. The intercollegiate competition, which runs from Jan. 30 to April 9, pits universities against each other to see who can collect the most recyclables.
“The main goal of this event is to increase student awareness of campus recycling,” Recyclemania’s Web site says.
Recyclemania began in 2001, when Ohio University and Miami University (Ohio) competed to see who could win in a recycling competition. Though Miami University won, a spark had set off across the country. The following year, the program doubled in size adding Bowling Green State and Harvard Universities. The growth continued until in 2004 there were 17 schools participating.
“We found that competition and rivalry speaks to people a lot more strongly than saving the planet and doing the right thing,” said Edward Newman, the refuse and recycling manager at Ohio University and co-founder of Recyclemania told the Yale Daily News.
Recyclemania paired with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2004 as a part of its WasteWise program, providing electronic and technical support.
“We got an email about Recyclemania,” said California State University San Marcos Administrative Analyst for Facility Services Mui Sullivan. Sullivan, and her fellow members of the green team, are participating in the competition for the first time this year.
“We’ve done lots of advertising in campus media and putting up flyers,” said Sullivan. “Everybody across the board is excited.” The California State San Marcos Green Team has focused on bringing recycling to everyone on campus, not just students, but also staff and faculty. “We try to make it as convenient and straightforward as possible,” said Sullivan. “Students will definitely carry the process with them.”
Each participating university sets up goals for its own achievement. California State University San Marcos has a goal of recycling 60 percent of its waste immediately and the long-term goal of having no waste. In 1999, the state of California passed sections to AB 75, which mandated that all state institutions had to divert 50 percent of their waste from landfills by Jan. 1, 2004, in an effort to cut down on waste and increase recycling.
“We’re always educating students about recycling,” said Sullivan. “We’ve always had a good strong program.”
As of February 5th, the University of Oregon was winning the per capita competition at 7.14 pounds per student. The University of California at San Marco was winning the Recycling Rate competition at 42.94 percent.
“We didn’t anticipate coming in first, but its added excitement about recycling on campus,” said Sullivan.
Universities are a good place to cut down on waste. Recyclemania estimates that between 30 and 70 percent of all campus waste comes from residence halls or dining halls, and half of that waste can be recycled.
“It’s [recycling] almost second nature to us, its almost built into our culture,” said Sullivan.
The winning trophy will be presented on Earth Day, April 18, 2005.
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