More than 30 million pounds of waste was recycled through the competition

Kent State University earned first-place honors in the annual Campus Race to Zero Waste, a nationwide college campus recycling competition.

Kent State placed first in the large campus division for Food Organics waste, for diverting more food waste than any other large-size university in the competition.

Melanie Knowles, Kent State University’s manager of sustainability, stands in front of her favorite building on campus, The John Elliott for Architecture and Environmental Design.
Melanie Knowles, manager of sustainability at Kent State.

Melanie Knowles, manager of sustainability at Kent State, said the university looks broadly at food waste reduction and other waste reduction and recycling strategies.

“That starts with University Culinary Services minimizing the creation of food waste. Then edible excess food is donated to Flashes Fighting Hunger who feed people in the community. Inedible food scraps are captured by our Grind2Energy systems at Eastway and DI Dining to create energy and compressed natural gas fuel,” Knowles said. “It takes the commitment of many campus partners to continue these valuable programs.”

Campus Race to Zero Waste – formerly known as RecycleMania – is the nation’s premier waste reduction and recycling competition among colleges and universities, managed by the National Wildlife Federation, and governed by RecycleMania Inc. Since its launch in 2001, Campus Race to Zero Waste has been helping campuses minimize waste and improve their recycling efforts.

This year, Kent State joined more than 2.7 million college students and staff nationwide in the competition to reduce the campus waste footprint through minimization efforts by donating, composting and recycling more than 30.7 million pounds of waste.  

Collectively, the participating schools have kept more than 105 million single-use plastic containers out of landfills and prevented the release of 23,174 metric tons equivalent of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, equal to avoiding the annual emissions from 5,515 cars.  

“This year’s college and university competition participants made enormous strides on waste reduction and integrating sustainable practices throughout their campuses,” said Kristy Jones, director of higher education programs at the National Wildlife Federation. “These collective actions to reduce the schools’ waste footprints are inspiring and are making a tangible positive impact on the environment."

Kent State University is a single-stream campus, where different recyclable materials can be put in the same recycling bin on campus.

“Our 2024 winners show why colleges continue to be among our nation’s leaders on sustainability. These schools run the gamut – urban and rural, public and private, large and small,” said Stacy Wheeler, president and co-founder of the competition. “Their success shows that waste reduction in any type of community is possible, and is a testament to every student, faculty and staff member who made these accomplishments happen.”

Highlights of this year’s competition are:  

  • 2.7 million students, faculty and staff reached.
  • More than 150 college and university participants from 39 U.S. states and Canada.
  • 30.7 million pounds of waste donated, composted and recycled.
  • 105 million single-use plastic containers kept out of landfills.


POSTED: Monday, June 3, 2024 07:08 AM
Updated: Wednesday, June 12, 2024 07:11 AM