RecycleMania 2011 begins

Nationwide recycling competition pits WUSTL against other colleges

WUSTL’s top 11 percent finish in last year’s RecycleMania competition was impressive, but the Office of Sustainability is challenging WUSTL to finish even higher in the 2011 RecycleMania contest, which lasts eight weeks and ends Saturday, April 2.

RecycleMania 2011, administered by the National Recycling Coalition, pits WUSTL against other U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities to see which campus can keep the greatest amount of waste materials from landfills.

While the university encourages recycling throughout the year, all faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to reduce, reuse and recycle during the annual RecycleMania competition to re-emphasize the importance of reducing landfill waste and to help WUSTL defeat fellow schools.

Last year, Washington University recycled 393,172 pounds of waste to rank No. 35 out of 346 schools — among the top 11 percent — in the annual RecycleMania contest’s Gorilla category.

The university hopes to improve on its performance in 2011, but is focused on a long-term emphasis on recycling, says Deborah Howard, interim director of sustainability.

Reducing waste and recycling is an important component of the university’s overall Strategic Plan for Environmentally Sustainable Operations (, and the university-wide Sustainability Pledge ( for faculty, staff and students features a section on recycling and waste reduction.

Last year, the university introduced single-stream recycling to make it easier for the WUSTL community to recycle its waste.

“While RecycleMania is a friendly competition among fellow schools, the university’s commitment to reducing waste and recycling is in earnest,” Howard says.

“Through initiatives like RecycleMania and the Sustainability Pledge, the university hopes students, faculty and staff can get ideas and participate in initiatives that help the university community lessen our material impact on the world.”

The university’s Office of Sustainability partners with Environmental Health & Safety to monitor and submit WUSTL’s recycling information to RecycleMania administrators.

Each week, standings are posted online at to help motivate campuses to continue recycling.

Awards are given to the schools that recycle the greatest overall amount of recyclables (Gorilla), the greatest percentage of their overall waste (Grand Champion) and greatest amount of recyclables per person (Per Capita Classic). Because of WUSTL’s move to single-stream recycling, the university no longer participates in the targeted materials — such as food waste, paper and cardboard — categories.

When WUSTL first participated in RecycleMania in 2003, the contest’s third year, the university ranked last among eight competing schools in the Per Capita award, which measures the amount of recycled goods per person.

Under the leadership of Donna Hall, environmental manager in Environmental Health & Safety, WUSTL has dramatically improved its standing since then, finishing in approximately the top quarter of schools in the Per Capita category — No. 49 of 180 schools (2008), No. 62 of 293 schools (2009) and No. 82 of 346 schools (2010) — the past three years.

According to RecycleMania, 84.5 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials were recovered during the 2010 competition.

For more information about RecycleMania and to view current and past RecycleMania standings, visit For more information about recycling on campus, visit or e-mail