WUSTL joins national RecycleMania contest

What’s a little friendly competition among schools? We have athletic contests, debate showdowns and mock trials.

But now comes another contest in which schools take on more than one opponent at a time — and at the same time make for a healthier environment.

Welcome to RecycleMania, a national competition among university recycling programs that provides students a proactive exercise in waste reduction.

Over a 10-week period — under way through April 8 — schools compete in different contests to see which institution can collect the largest amount of recyclables and the least amount of trash, and have the highest recycling rate.

The university that recycles the most wins.

According to the contest’s Web site, “The main goal of this event is to increase student awareness of campus recycling and waste minimization. In the end, this event shows that all participating universities have made achievements in recycling and waste reduction!”

For the 2004 event, RecycleMania partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise program to enhance the competition, providing technical assistance, a Web site and electronic reporting.

The 2005 competition had 47 participating schools and included two competitions, per capita recycling and recycling rate. Miami University won the former; California State University-San Marcos won the latter.

“Students can help by sincerely making an effort to recycle as much of their solid waste as possible in University recycling containers,” said Bruce Backus, assistant vice chancellor for environmental health and safety. “The Committee on Environmental Quality has been working with the University in placing additional recycling containers throughout the campus.”

The 2006 RecycleMania competitions include:

• Per Capita Classic: Schools will compete to see which can collect the largest amount of acceptable recyclables per person — this is the original RecycleMania competition.

• Waste Minimization: Schools will compete to see which produces the least amount of municipal solid waste (including both recyclables and trash) per person. This competition is intended to reward those schools that generate the least amount of waste and recyclables, emphasizing reuse and source reduction over recycling.

Additional recognition will be afforded as follows:

• Grand Champion: Schools that participate in both the Per Capita Classic and the Waste Minimization competitions are automatically eligible to become the “grand champion” of RecycleMania.

The grand champion will be the school that, based on their combined results, demonstrates the greatest achievement in both source reduction and recycling.

• Targeted Materials: In addition to reporting the total amount of materials recycled, schools will have the option to report recycled materials separately, including bottles and cans, corrugated, food service organics, and paper. RecycleMania will provide targeted recognition opportunities to schools that conduct successful campaigns to increase the amount of specific materials collected.

Acceptable materials for recycling include paper, boxboard, catalogs, hard and softbound books, junk mail, magazines, newspapers, office paper (all colors), phone books, cardboard, baled and unbaled cardboard boxes — as long as they are not contaminated with waste food products.

Acceptable recyclable containers include No. 1 and No. 2 plastic (soda, water, juice, beer and laundry detergent bottles), aluminum cans, glass and steel cans.

For more information, go online to recyclemaniacs.org and ehs.wustl.edu/new/recycling.htm.