Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Universities competing to reduce waste in RecycleMania 2013

U-M will compete with hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide in the battle to collect campus trash and recycled materials during RecycleMania 2013.

The competition started Sunday and runs through March 30. The university is measuring its waste-reduction levels on a weekly basis, and tracking its standings in comparison to other universities.


Rufus, U-M's recycling mascot, encourages the campus community to use outdoor recycling bins located on the Diag. (Photo courtesy of Public Affairs)

Learn more about U-M recycling programs.

Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to utilize the available recycling bins on campus and be mindful of the amount of waste they generate. Participation in the competition supports the university's broader commitment to sustainability, known as Planet Blue.

"RecycleMania is a great tool to boost awareness and involvement in campus waste-reduction efforts," said Alison Richardson, recycling coordinator with the Waste Reduction and Recycling Office, a part of Plant Building and Grounds Services. "The excitement and participation generated by the competition helps to reduce waste sent to landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Last year's competition resulted in the university collecting nearly 750,000 pounds of recyclables, equal to avoiding 1,364 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions or removing 258 vehicles from the roads.

U-M will compete in four categories:

• Largest collection of total recyclables.

• Largest amount of recyclables per capita.

• Least amount of waste per capita.

• Highest recycling rate during the competition.

Nicole Berg, Planet Blue Ambassador coordinator with the Graham Sustainability Institute, said she plans to encourage participants of the Planet Blue Ambassador program to assist in generating buzz on campus.

"As we have just launched the PBA program, RecycleMania is a great opportunity for those who have pledged to be more sustainable to join this nationwide initiative and be a sustainability leader," she said.

Similar to last year, the Planet Blue Ambassador Student Leaders will promote recycling and encourage sustainable behaviors in the residence halls.

Simultaneous to RecycleMania, the Waste Reduction and Recycling Office will host the seventh annual Recycling Champions competition. The intra-campus competition involves campus buildings competing to beat their 2012 recycling and waste reduction totals.

The competition monitors improvement, and awards performance in three areas: most improved recycling rate, largest waste reduction rate and highest recycling rate.

RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste-reduction activities to their campus communities. This year marks the eighth year the university has participated.

In 2012 the efforts of the 605 participating schools resulted in the grand total collection of 92 million pounds of recyclables, which prevented the release of nearly 150,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, equal to the amount of electricity used to power nearly 16,400 homes.