The 523 colleges and universities participating in March’s RecycleMania Tournament — meant to harness the competitive spirit around sports rivalries and use them to increase campus recycling and waste reduction — collectively recovered 90.3 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials between the beginning of February and the end of March.
RecycleMania, Inc., says the tournament prevented the release of nearly 121,436 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere.
Schools that participate in RecycleMania typically increase their recycling rate during the challenge, according to the group, which says that in 2011, the recycling rate for participating schools increased from 24.37% to 27.79%. Participation can also benefit colleges recycling programs by bringing attention and, in some cases, additional resources to expand their efforts: surveys of campus program coordinators have shown that 75% say their participation in RecycleMania drew the attention of campus administrators, RecycleMania says.
Schools are ranked according to how much recycling, trash and food waste they collect. During this 13th annual event, updated weekly rankings allowed schools to track their performance in eight categories – measuring their recycling rate; overall recycling by weight; lowest amount of total waste; and per capita recovery for paper, cardboard, cans and bottles, and food waste. Colleges also participated in several special categories targeting electronics and film plastics, as well as the Game Day: Basketball category, which ranked schools based on recyclables collected at a single home basketball game.
The colleges and universities that took home top prizes were:
–University of Missouri-Kansas City — Grand Champion (percentage of overall waste that is recycled), 86.02% –California State University-San Marcos — Per Capita Classic (total pounds of recyclables collected per person), 53.11 lbs. –Valencia Community College — Waste Minimization (lowest recyclables and trash per person), 3.20 lbs.
The RecycleMania Tournament is an independent program of RecycleMania, Inc., a nonprofit organization led by recycling managers from participating schools. Program management is provided by Keep America Beautiful with additional program support from the United States EPA’s WasteWise program and the College and University Recycling Coalition (CURC). This year, RecycleMania also partnered with the United Negro College Fund Special Programs (UNCFSP) and Campus Conservation National (CCN).
Program sponsors include the American Forest & Paper Association, Alcoa Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company and SCA.