RecycleMania Kicks Off 2011 Collegiate Recycling Competition

Press Release

Last updated 2/10/2011 11:46:32 AM

RecycleMania springs back into action as college campuses compete to see who can reduce, reuse and recycle the most on-campus waste. For an eight-week period, beginning in early February and running parallel to the NCAA basketball tournament, 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 February 6 through April 2, 2011, 630 schools representing 49 states, the District of Columbia and Canada will compete in nine 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, Sustainability Specialist at Ball State University and 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 2010, 607 participating colleges and universities collected over 84.5 million pounds of recyclables and compostable organics. This prevented the release of 137,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E) into the atmosphere.

"Inspiring young adults to lead more sustainable lifestyles is important to Keep America Beautiful's mission," said Matthew M. McKenna, president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful, Inc. "Our organization is thrilled to play a role in RecycleMania through our sponsorship and administration of the program."

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 six participating universities. Administrative support for the 2011 RecycleMania Tournament is provided by the national nonprofit Keep America Beautiful.

The competition is made possible with the sponsorship support of The Coca-Cola Company, Alcoa, Waste Management, SCA and the American Forest & Paper Association.

"Coca-Cola has a long history of supporting schools and college and we're excited to have an opportunity to extend that support to college recycling programs," said John Burgess, president of Coca-Cola Recycling LLC. "We envision a world where our used packages are seen as valuable resources that can be used to manufacture new products and there's no better place to bring that idea to life than in our colleges and universities."

"Recycling is a simple action to take, but it has a huge impact on our collective energy use. Recycling just one aluminum can save enough energy to run a television for nearly two hours," said Paula Davis, Alcoa Foundation president. "Supporting KAB's RecycleMania is a great opportunity for us to generate awareness about recycling and, we hope, encourage students, professors and the entire campus to take that one extra step."

"Waste Management has had a long and successful partnership with Keep America Beautiful, and we're excited to expand that support to RecycleMania," said Paul Pistono, vice president, public sector services. "As the largest recycler in North America, we are delighted that RecycleMania will showcase Waste Management's ability to divert materials and improve recycling among colleges and universities. Our investment in innovative technologies, such as single-stream recycling, furthers our goal of providing customers with cost-efficient, environmental solutions and improving recycling rates at higher education institutions."

Additional program support is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WasteWise program and the College and University Recycling Coalition (CURC).

Who's Participating This Year

RecycleMania has grown to 630 colleges and universities this year. These colleges and universities represent more than 6 million students, and 1.5 million faculty and staff from 49 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. The states with the most participants include Pennsylvania (48), Texas (43), Massachusetts (43), New York (41) and California (37). The list of institutions taking part is diverse, ranging from Brigham Young University to Yale University to Labette Community College in Parsons, Kansas.

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@recyclemaniacs.org.