Once again it is time to review and celebrate the University of Rochester’s performance in RecycleMania. For the fifth year in a row, we have participated in this annual competition between over 600 colleges and universities across North America. RecycleMania lasts a period of ten weeks, and evaluates different categories of waste minimization and recycling such as paper, corrugated cardboard, per capita waste, and overall best recycling rate. The top prizes are awarded to schools with the highest recycling rates per capita, lowest weight of waste per capita, and greatest amount of recycled material by tonnage. Congratulations to this year’s winners: Grand Champion University of Missouri-Kansas City, California State University-San Marcos for the Per Capita Classic, and Rutgers University for the Gorilla Prize.
While the winners are no slouch, it is important to celebrate the collective effort of all competing schools. Together the participants recovered 90.3 million pounds of recyclables and organic material, preventing the release of nearly 121,436 metric tons of CO2 equivalent into the atmosphere.
The University of Rochester scored well in many categories, ranking in the top 10% for five of the categories and within the top half of the remaining two. Full results for the University are available here. A smaller breakdown is below:
Grand Champion: 114 out of 273 schools (Recycling Rate of 30.642 percent)
Per Capita Classic: 26 out of 361 schools (29.678 lbs of Targeted Materials per capita)
Gorilla Prize: 31 out of 365 schools (499,443,000 lbs of Targeted Materials in gross tonnage)
Paper: 11 out of 164 schools (13,359 lbs per capita)
Corrugated Cardboard: 16 out of 162 schools (10.297 lbs per capita)
Bottles and Cans: 10 out of 163 schools (6.022 lbs per capita) 6%
Food Service Organics: 63 out of 156 schools (4.455 lbs per capita)
Based on the above results, the University of Rochester’s cumulative greenhouse gas emission reductions for the 10 week period are 1,190 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. This is equal to removing 233 cars from the road or eliminating the energy consumption of 103 households.
In each category we outranked comparable schools such as Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, Washington University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Full results are available at the RecycleMania website.
But, where the University really shined this year was in the tremendous effort put into the promotion of RecycleMania. The University Recycling Office teamed up with student group Grassroots as well as many other student organizations to lead a committee charged with implementing various promotional events and awareness campaigns. The collaboration between Grassroots, Engineers for a Sustainable World, GreenSpace, EcoReps, Global Water Brigades, and many more created weekly activities concerning various environmental topics. Among these activities were a Green Energy Fair, a tour of the Monroe County Recycling Center, Mt. Trashmore (see picture), an art exhibit and more!
These results reinforce the effort that the University of Rochester places onto recycling and promoting environmentally friendly actions. Remember that even though RecycleMania is over for another year, being sustainable is more than a competition – it is a lifestyle.
By Alanna Scheinerman, Class of 2013