UW News

February 1, 2007

Ready your bins for RecycleMania

UW News

Ladies and gentlemen, ready your recycling bins, and may the most tonnage win.

The UW is entering RecycleMania, a nationwide contest for university recycling programs aimed at increasing both awareness of and participation in recycling. The contest runs for 10 weeks, from mid-January to mid-April.

RecycleMania got its start in 2001, when two staffers at Ohio and Miami universities decided they had to increase recycling in the residence and dining halls on their campuses. They arranged a competition and, that first year, Ohio University competed directly, bin to bin, with Miami University to see which school could recycle the most. Miami won.

Participation doubled in 2002 and again in 2003 as Bowling Green University won the title twice against increasing competition. In 2004, RecycleMania partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise program.

By last year, the competition was taking place among 93 colleges and universities nationwide, and had expanded to include several various contests. There’s the Per Capita Classic, the original RecycleMania event, where schools compete to see which can collect the largest amount of acceptable recyclables per person. Then there’s the Waste Minimization contest, where the prize goes to the schools producing the least solid waste. Honors also are given for success in different “targeted” recyclable materials. And there’s a Grand Champion prize, which is awarded to the school with the best combined numbers in the Per Capita Classic and Waste Minimization.

Then there’s the Gorilla Prize, which is awarded to the school that recycles the most total tonnage of material during the 10-week period, regardless of its size.

Pat Kaufman, UW Recycling Program operations manager, said the UW will compete only in the Per Capita Classic this year, an area that involves faculty, staff and students.

But he allowed that it’s possible the numbers could be big enough to also bring the UW into competition for the Gorilla Prize — only time, and many bins of recyclables, will tell. “We do collect hundreds of tons of recyclables a month,” Kaufman said. “Thousands of tons a year.”

Kaufman said his department will provide updates through the contest, and there already is a Web link to RecycleMania from the UW Recycling office, located at www.uwrecycling.com

Will we win? Kaufman said only, “We’re optimistic about our chances in placing, and in making the University proud on a national scale.”

He added, “And mostly, we’re glad to be able to participate and use this opportunity to promote recycling on campus.”