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RecycleMania Sweeps Kent State Residence Halls and Academic Buildings

Posted Feb. 7, 2011

Kent State University is now competing in its second year of RecycleMania, a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities.

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Recycling really counts right now!
Over a 10-week period, schools report recycling and trash data which are then ranked according to who collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate. With each week's reports and rankings, participating schools watch how their results fluctuate against other schools and use this to rally their campus communities to reduce and recycle more. The competition began Feb. 6 and lasts until April 2.

Last year, Kent State participated in the Benchmark Division of the nationwide recycling competition. Every bit of recycling helps, but the Benchmark Division is a lot like competing in the minor leagues of baseball. This year, Kent State has entered itself into the higher-level Competition Division for the 10-week recycling program, during which the university's residence halls and academic buildings will compete against more than 350 other schools' recycling programs.

RecycleMania offers five categories for schools to compete in: Grand Champion, Per Capita Classic, Waste Minimization, Gorilla Prize and Targeted Materials. Kent State will be competing in the Per Capita Classic, Gorilla Prize and Targeted Materials categories.

Melanie Knowles, Kent State's manager of sustainability, says that RecycleMania is primarily based on an honor system as far as reporting of numbers.

"We're registered with RecycleMania," she says. "Once the event starts, every week we'll provide the weight of recyclables and trash. They take that at face value."

While RecycleMania takes the statistics at face value, the university does have its numbers verified by Portage County Recycling and Republic Waste Services.

Knowles says that entering the Competition Division has created new obstacles in measuring recycled cardboard. The university uses single-stream recycling, which makes cardboard hard to identify because it's mixed with paper and bottles.

"It poses a different challenge with regard to tracking," she says. "Last year, we were only doing residence halls, so we had to internally estimate the weight of the cardboard. You'll see around campus that there are cardboard-only dumpsters, so we can compete in that."

Each category has its own unique set of rules and regulations.

The Per Capita Classic showcases schools that can collect the largest amount of paper, cardboard, bottles and cans per person.

In the Targeted Materials Competition, Kent State will be recycling corrugated cardboard. The total weight of the recycled cardboard will be divided by the college's population to give it its ranking.

The Gorilla Prize is the most straightforward. The bigger schools usually win this category, as the winner is the school that recycles the highest tonnage of combined paper, cardboard, bottles and cans during the 10 weeks. It doesn't matter if a school has 1,000 students or 30,000 students; the school that posts the highest number wins.

If Kent State had competed in the Competition Division last year, it would have placed sixth in the Per Capita Classic, eighth in the Gorilla Prize and first in recycled corrugated cardboard among other Ohio universities.

Knowles stresses the importance of sustainability initiatives such as this.

"From a financial perspective, it's important," she says. "It costs more for us to have trash picked up and dumped into a landfill where it stays forever. It's environmentally important because we're saving landfill space and we're saving more raw materials from being extracted."

For more information, or to see progress, visit www.recyclemania.com.

By Tom Crilley