RecycleMania aims to reduce waste on campus with contest

BY CATHERINE BROWN ’14
Staff Writer

F&M will once again be participating in RecycleMania, a national recycling competition. The contest began on Feb. 3 and will continue for eight weeks, ending on March 30.

There are two divisions of RecycleMania, the Benchmark Division and the Competition Division. F&M participates in the Competition Division, which means the college’s scores are measured against scores from other institutions to generate a rank.

According to the competition’s website, “By framing recycling in competitive terms, RecycleMania seeks to tap school spirit as a motivator to reach students who may not otherwise respond to environmental messages.”

The official goals of the competition include motivating students and staff on college campuses to increase recycling efforts and decrease waste generation, garnering attention for recycling programs, and encouraging schools to improve their recycling programs.

The competition began in 2001 with two sports rivals, Ohio University and Miami University, competing to see which institution could recycle more over a ten-week period. Miami University was the winner in this inaugural year. In 2012, American University won the competition with an 85.16 percent recycling rate.

This year, F&M is participating in four categories: bottles and cans, corrugated cardboard, mixed paper, and municipal solid waste (trash).

Last year, the College ranked 194th out of 275 schools throughout the country. F&M’s recycling rate, which is the weight of collected recyclables divided by the sum of the weight of trash and recyclables, multiplied by 100, was 22.5 percent last year.

Tom Simpson, Millport Conservancy Liaison and Sustainability Coordinator for the College, hopes the F&M community can increase our recycling rate to 30 percent this year.

Simpson attributes this fairly low rate to the large amount of trash produced on campus, rather than a lack of recycling.

“Last week alone, we had 13 tons of trash be hauled away from campus,” he said. “For whatever reason, we produce a lot of trash. This makes the denominator bigger, which means that our rate looks low.”

“RecycleMania gives us a chance to figure out the weight and volume of materials we’re using on campus,” Simpson said. “We have a number of waste initiatives as part of the master plan, so the competition is coming at a time when we’re already looking closely at our waste production.”

Although RecycleMania specifically focuses on increasing the amount of recycling on campuses, Simpson also stresses the importance of being less wasteful in general.

“Trying to cut down on the number of throwaways is important,” he said. “Recycling is good, but if you can eliminate using plastics in the first place, that’s better.”

Simpson is working with the Facilities and Operations department.

“We’ll be changing the recycling containers and systems on campus in the not too distant future,” he said. The installation of water bottle refilling stations at various places throughout the campus is one of the initiatives to
reduce waste.

“Disposable plastic water bottles should soon go the way of the dinosaurs,” Simpson commented.
When asked how members of the F&M community can assist in making RecycleMania a success this year, Simpson imparted some simple advice.

“Stop throwing so much stuff away and find a recycling container,” he said.

Questions? Email Catherine at cbrown2@fandm.edu.

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