630 Colleges, Universities Recover 91 Million Pounds of Organic, Recyclable Materials (With Video)

The ruckus heard across college campuses this spring was not just because of the NCAA collegiate basketball tournaments. It was also RecycleMania season at 630 colleges and universities. RecycleMania, which wrapped up its 11th annual recycling competition in early April, is an eight-week challenge that ignites classic college rivalries, rallying students, faculty and staff to increase on-campus recycling rates beyond their collegiate competitors.

This year, 91 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials were recovered, which prevented the release of nearly 270 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. This reduction in greenhouse gases is equivalent to the annual emissions from more than 52.8 million passenger cars; electricity use of more than 32.7 million homes; or the burning of nearly 1.5 million railcars' worth of coal.

The competition, which extends from February 6 through April 2, includes eight categories. The colleges and universities that took home top prizes in the three primary categories are:

  • "Grand Champion" (determined by the percentage of overall waste recycled): California State University-San Marcos (79.69%) – San Marcos, Calif
  • "Per Capita Classic" (determined by total pounds of recyclables collected per person): Union College (55.69 pounds) Schenectady, N.Y.
  • "Waste Minimization" (determined by the lowest overall amount of waste recyclables and trash per person): North Lake College (3.07 pounds)Irving, Texas

"One unique aspect of RecycleMania is that everyone is a competitor," noted Bill Rudy, recycling coordinator at Brigham Young University and chair of the RecycleMania Steering Committee. "No one sits on the sidelines. When a student recycles they add to their score and if they throw something away it hurts the school's ranking. With the whole campus in the game, the competitive spirit spreads and recycling increases."

RecycleMania is an independent program of the RecycleMania Steering Committee. The competition is made possible with the sponsorship support of SCA Tissue, The Coca-Cola Company, Alcoa Foundation, Waste Management, Keep America Beautiful and the American Forest & Paper Association. Program management is provided by Keep America Beautiful with additional program support from the EPA's WasteWise program and the College and University Recycling Coalition.

"We're thrilled to celebrate the 2011 RecycleMania champions knowing that, by increasing campus recycling, all participating schools are winners," said Matt McKenna, president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful. "KAB is proud of our ongoing relationship with the RecycleMania program and look forward to making the competition bigger and better in coming years."

"SCA would like to thank and congratulate the 630 colleges and universities nationwide who participated in RecycleMania 2011. It's our hope that long after this contest is over, young adults will continue to recycle and reduce waste year-round," said Don Lewis, president, SCA Tissue North America. "SCA is committed to sustainability, and we'll continue to do our part to preserve our environment and inspire others to keep this focus top of mind and to take action."

"Congratulations – and thank you – to all the students who helped protect the environment and conserve natural resources by recycling at their colleges and universities," said Gary Wygant, Coca-Cola Recycling vice-president of business development. "Coca-Cola is proud to help bring RecycleMania to college campuses around the country and remind students about the good things that happen when they recycle."

"We salute all of the students who participated in RecycleMania for demonstrating how much they care about the environment," said Paula Davis, president, Alcoa Foundation. "If every American recycled just one more can per week, we could boost recycling rates in the U.S. by 22 percent and save enough energy to power almost 300,000 average American homes for a full year. We're proud to support RecycleMania and even more determined to make it easier for people to recycle."

"Waste Management has had a long and successful partnership with Keep America Beautiful, and we're excited to expand that support to RecycleMania," said Paul Pistono, vice president, public sector services.  "As the largest recycler in North America, we are delighted that RecycleMania will showcase Waste Management's ability to divert materials and improve recycling among colleges and universities. Our investment in innovative technologies, such as single-stream recycling, furthers our goal of providing customers with cost-efficient environmental solutions and improving recycling rates at higher education institutions."

Top schools in each category earn "bragging rights," while the winners of each are recognized with an award made of recycled glass. For the full results of the competition, go to http://recyclemaniacs.org/results.aspx.

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