In intercollegiate competition, recycling rate dips slightly

The amount of material the University recycled slightly decreased this year as part of Recyclemania, an intercollegiate competition aimed at promoting sustainability, while the overall amount of waste produced saw a decline for the first time in five years.

The University recycled 1 percent less than last year in the Recyclemania contest, according to data from the Office of Sustainability, juxtaposing GW’s intense effort to brand itself as a leading university for sustainability.

Throughout the 10-week-long competition – which challenges colleges across the country to recycle and reduce the amount of waste they produce – the University’s recycling rate remained nearly 23 percent, down from just over 24 percent in 2010, according to the Recyclemania website. Those percentages translate to 307,195 pounds of recycled waste in 2011 and 363,060 pounds in 2010. This year, GW produced 1,042,675 pounds of trash, whereas last year the school generated 1,143,241 pounds of trash – only a slight decrease for a University aggressively pursuing green accolades.

Administrators have made hefty pledges to make GW a leading green institution, aiming to be a carbon-neutral University by 2040 and instituting a broad climate action plan to dictate the University’s sustainability.

“Although the percentage of waste recycled overall didn’t increase greatly over last year’s numbers, it’s encouraging that overall waste decreased since ‘reduction’ is the most important part of the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ model,” Sophie Waskow, the stakeholder engagement coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, said.

This year’s Recyclemania challenge ended April 2, after eight weeks of competition. More than 390 schools from across the nation participated.

GW finished first among participating D.C. schools in the amount of recycled material per student and was fourth in total percentage of waste recycled.

Waskow said GW would continue conservation efforts even after the competition is over.

“Recyclemania is an eight week contest, but recycling is a priority throughout the year for the Office of Sustainability and the Division of Operations, and is promoted in many ways,” Waskow said.

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