Every spring semester since 2003, the University community has focused on the three Rs — reduce, reuse and recycle — as participants in RecycleMania, an annual competition administered by the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) that pits WUSTL against colleges and universities throughout the United States to see which campus can prevent the most materials from landing in a landfill.
The current semester is no exception. The 2008 RecycleMania competition began Jan. 27 at WUSTL and other campuses. It lasts 10 weeks and ends April 5.
While the campus encourages recycling at all times, all faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to reduce, reuse and recycle during the competition to reemphasize the importance of reducing landfill waste and to help WUSTL defeat fellow schools.
In particular, WUSTL is monitoring the total pounds of paper, corrugated cardboard, bottles and cans it recycles on a weekly basis. The University’s Office of Sustainability monitors and submits WUSTL’s information to the competition’s sponsors.
Each week, standings are posted online to help motivate campuses to continue recycling. Awards are given to the schools that recycle the greatest overall amount of recyclables and the greatest percentage of their overall waste. Schools with the most paper, beverage containers, cardboard and food waste recycled also are recognized.
The University first participated in RecycleMania in 2003, the contest’s third year. In the University’s first three years of RecycleMania competition, WUSTL placed last. The past two years, WUSTL has drastically improved, finishing ninth in 2006 and a respectable 47th out of 175 schools participating in the “Recycling per Capita” category in 2007.
“While we’d love to win the RecycleMania competition, it is just as important for us to achieve continual improvement every year, year-round, and not just during the competition,” said Matt Malten, assistant vice chancellor for campus sustainability.
“Reducing the materials we send to be landfilled is an important part of our sustainability goals, and it’s one to which every individual on campus can contribute. Simply by refusing to throw away recyclable materials and choosing to use our recycling facilities throughout campus, we all can participate in this competition and ultimately eliminate the concept of ‘waste’ from our practices,” Malten said.
To help students get involved and share ideas about the competition, the NRC has created both Facebook and MySpace pages for the contest to go along with the program’s own Web site, recyclemaniacs.org.
This year, more than 400 schools ranging from Ivy League to two-year community colleges are participating in the contest, the most in RecycleMania’s eight-year history and approximately twice as many as the 201 schools that participated in 2007.
The program is endorsed by the NRC’s College and University Recycling Council and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise program. Last year, 41.3 million pounds of waste was recycled through RecycleMania.
To track WUSTL’s weekly standings in the RecycleMania competition, visit recyclemaniacs.org/results.aspx or visit ees.wustl.edu. For information about recycling on the WUSTL campus, visit ceq.wustl.edu/recycling.htm.