WUSTL recycles its way to top 10 percent contest finish

Washington University recycled 428,663 pounds of waste this spring to rank No. 28 out of 293 schools — among the top 10 percent — in the annual RecycleMania contest’s Gorilla category, based on total recycled materials collected. The 2009 RecycleMania competition began Jan. 18 and ended March 28.

WUSTL’s 428,663 total pounds was good enough to rank No. 2 in the state of Missouri (behind the University of Missouri-Columbia), No. 2 among University Athletic Association rivals (behind Emory University) and No. 9 among private colleges and universities nationwide.

“Once again, our campus community represented Washington University well in the RecycleMania competition,” said Matt Malten, assistant vice chancellor for sustainability. “While we again ranked among the top 10 percent of institutions in the nation in this competition, we know we have much room to improve and will work to do so throughout the year and in next year’s contest.

“This competition is so terrific because it serves as an annual reminder to us all of the importance of the three Rs — reduce, reuse, recycle — and that preventing the landfill of valuable, useable materials is a simple way all of us can be environmental stewards because it conserves natural resources and protects land and water resources,” Malten said.

Malten also said that this event can teach us how to be good fiscal stewards as well.

“One thing that is clear from our performance data from this competition is that we still have tremendous room for improvement in waste minimization,” Malten said. “By simply not creating waste in the first place, we not only protect the environment but also reduce the amount we need to spend on facilitating recycling. This is crucial at all times, but especially in our current economy, where it has been a challenge to sustain recycled materials markets.”

The University also excelled in the Targeted Material-Paper category, finishing No. 16 of 87 schools (top 20 percent) with 11.56 pounds of recycled paper per person, and the Per Capita Classic, ranking No. 62 of 293 schools (top 25 percent) with 18.82 pounds of recycled material per person.

This year, 510 schools participated in the contest, the most in RecycleMania’s nine-year history.

RecycleMania is a 10-week competition administered by the National Recycling Coalition 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.

For more information on the contest or to see the full results, visit recyclemaniacs.org. For information about recycling on the WUSTL campus, visit sustain.wustl.edu.