Washington University recycled 556,623 pounds of waste this spring to rank in the top 5 percent nationally — No. 15 out of 363 schools — in the annual RecycleMania contest’s Gorilla category. The Gorilla category is based on total recycled materials collected on campus. WUSTL also increased its diversion rate — or percentage of total waste recycled or reused — by nearly 10 percent and reduced the total waste produced by 4.5 pounds per person during the competition.
RecycleMania is an eight-week competition that pits WUSTL against other colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada to see which campus can prevent the most materials from ending up in a landfill. The contest ended April 2.
The university’s 556,623 total pounds recycled ranked No. 1 among University Athletic Association rivals, No. 2 in the state of Missouri (behind the University of Missouri-Columbia), and No. 5 among private colleges and universities nationwide.
While recycling more during the 2011 competition, WUSTL also reduced its percentage of waste sent to a landfill. For the 2011 contest, WUSTL’s diversion rate increased to 28.7 percent (556,623 pounds recycled of 1,939,203 pounds of total waste) from 18.8 percent (393,172 pounds recycled of 2,086,152 pounds of total waste) in the 2010 competition.
“The Washington University community should be proud of its exemplary performance in RecycleMania in 2011,” says Steven P. Hoffner, associate vice chancellor for operations. “The efforts of students, faculty and staff to recycle — not only during the competition, but also year-round — have made a significant impact in improving the sustainability of the university community.
“While recycling throughout the year is an important initiative for the university, equally important is the community’s efforts to reduce and reuse our material waste,” Hoffner says. “By following the three Rs — reducing, reusing and recycling — students, faculty and staff can live, study and work more sustainably.”
Reducing waste and recycling is an important component of the university’s overall Strategic Plan for Environmentally Sustainable Operations (wustl.edu/initiatives/sustain/strategicplan.html). The university-wide Sustainability Pledge (sustainabilitypledge.wustl.edu) for faculty, staff and students features a section on recycling and waste reduction.
The university also did well in the Per Capita Classic, ranking in the top 12 percent (No. 42 of 363 schools) with 24.54 pounds of recycled material per person.
With the debut of single-stream recycling on the Danforth Campus in January 2010, WUSTL was unable to participate in RecycleMania’s targeted materials contests.
WUSTL’s RecycleMania success was featured in RecycleMania’s April 8, 2011, update email. To view the update, visit news.wustl.edu/news/Documents/RecycleMania%20Update%20-%20WUSTL%20Spotlight.pdf.
According RecycleMania, 91 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials were recovered during the 2011 competition, which prevented the release of nearly 270 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E) — equivalent to the annual emissions from 52.8 million passenger cars, electricity use of 32.7 million homes or the burning of 1.5 million railcars’ worth of coal.
RecycleMania is administered by the National Recycling Coalition.
The university’s Office of Sustainability partnered with Environmental Health & Safety to monitor and submit WUSTL’s recycling information to RecycleMania.
For more information on the contest or to see the full results, visit recyclemaniacs.org.
For information about recycling on the WUSTL campus, visit wustl.edu/sustain.