Campus ready for another round of RecycleMania

Challenge is to reduce, reuse, recycle and build on last year's success

WUSTL’s No. 21 national ranking in last year’s RecycleMania competition was impressive, but the Office of Sustainability is challenging WUSTL to finish even higher in the 2009 RecycleMania contest, which begins Sunday, Jan. 18.

RecycleMania is an annual competition administered by the National Recycling Coalition. It pits WUSTL against other U.S. colleges and universities to see which campus can prevent the most materials from being buried in a landfill.

Then-Gov. Matt Blunt (left) presents the Missouri Recycling Association’s Excellence Award to Donna Hall, environmental compliance manager, and Bruce Backus, assistant vice chancellor for environmental health and safety, at a Dec. 15 ceremony at the State Capitol building. WUSTL received the award in recognition for for its excellent performance in the 2008 RecycleMania contest.WUSTL finished No. 1 among Missouri universities and colleges.

RecycleMania lasts 10 weeks and ends March 28.

Last year, WUSTL recycled 489,759 pounds of waste to rank No. 1 in the state of Missouri, No. 9 (out of 99) among private colleges and universities and No. 21 overall (out of 200) in the annual RecycleMania contest’s Gorilla category, which is based on total recycled materials collected.

The University recycled more than 21 pounds per person over the course of the competition. For its efforts, WUSTL was recognized in December 2008 with an Excellence Award from the Missouri Recycling Association.

“RecycleMania is a terrific competition,” said Matt Malten, assistant vice chancellor for sustainability. “It serves to remind us all of the importance of the three Rs — reduce, reuse and recycle — and that preventing the landfill of valuable, useable materials is a simple way all of us can be environmental stewards.”

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 re-emphasize the importance of reducing landfill waste and to help WUSTL defeat fellow schools.

The University first participated in RecycleMania in 2003, the contest’s third year, when WUSTL ranked last among eight competing schools in the Per Capita award, which measures the amount of recycled goods per person. WUSTL has dramatically improved its standing since then, finishing a respectable No. 47 of 175 schools (2007) and No. 49 of 180 schools (2008) in the Per Capita category the past two years.

The University hopes to achieve a top 10 performance this year but is focused on long-term success.

“While we have consistently improved our performance in RecycleMania, we know that improving the University’s overall recycling rate is a huge area of opportunity,” Malten said. “Throughout the year, our solid- waste recycling rate averages about 7 percent to 9 percent. Last year during RecycleMania, it was above 17 percent.

“One of our aspirational goals is to achieve 35 percent recycling rate throughout the year,” Malten said. “So, we have much more to accomplish, and we’ll need every member of our campus community to do his or her part to get there. To help with this effort, the University will work to help educate and market recycling programs to students, faculty and staff throughout the year.”

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 RecycleMania administrators.

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 (Gorilla) and the greatest percentage of their overall waste (Grand Champion) and greatest amount of recyclables per person (Per Capita Classic). Schools with the most paper, beverage containers, cardboard and food waste recycled also are recognized.

Last year, 58.6 million pounds of waste were recycled through RecycleMania. To track WUSTL’s weekly standings in the Recycle-Mania competition, visit or