Recyclemania 2016

RecycleMania 2016 competition promoting waste reduction on campuses

• Recyclemania is a friendly competition for colleges and universities across the United States and Canada. Its goal is to promote waste reduction activities on campuses over an eight-week period, starting Feb. 7 and running through April 2.

Each week, WPI will report the amount of recycling and trash collected, and is then ranked in various categories based on which schools recycle the most on a per capita basis, as well as which schools have the best recycling rate as a percentage of total waste.

So why does WPI participate?

“We participate to raise awareness about waste and recycling,” says Liz Tomaszewski, associate director of sustainability. “Many colleges and universities have extensive recycling programs, but it is hard to get people to join in. By offering a competition, the Recyclemania team hopes to rally school spirit to step up the recycling effort during the competition and make recycling a bigger part of our daily routine.”

Last year WPI ranked squarely in the middle of the pack of around 20 Massachusetts schools and in the top third of the 400 nationwide schools, Tomaszewski says. For the year, WPI produced approximately 660 tons of trash and 300 tons of recyclables; for a recycling rate of about 31 percent.

RecycleMania began in January 2001 as a challenge between Ohio University and Miami University, when the two recycling coordinators at the schools were looking for a way to motivate their student bodies to recycle more. The two universities decided to leverage the existing sports rivalry and challenged each other to see who could recycle the most.

The first year, Miami came away with the win, collecting 41.2 pounds per person, but Ohio wasn’t far behind, recycling 32.6 pounds per person over the 10-week challenge. The next year, colleagues at other universities were invited to join the competition and RecycleMania has been gaining momentum ever since. Beginning in 2004, RecycleMania partnered with the US EPA WasteWise program to develop a website and provide administrative support for the program. Participation in the tournament competition continued to grow with nearly 400 schools in 2015 vying for recycling honors. It is estimated that, nationwide, 80,100,000 pounds of recycling was collected.

Watch for details about an office clean-out drive, as well as a game-day challenge. Updates on WPI’s weekly recycling performance will begin by the week of Feb. 22.