RecycleMania promotes competition and sustainability

VCU is participating in RecycleMania for the fifth year. The international event is a competition among 500 colleges and universities to see whose recycling programs are most effective. Photos by Amber-Lynn Taber.

Eileen Mellon
Contributing Writer

VCU is participating in RecycleMania for the fifth year. The international event is a competition among 500 colleges and universities to see whose recycling programs are most effective. Photos by Amber-Lynn Taber.

Keeping with its reputation as one of the most eco-friendly campuses in the state, VCU will participate in RecycleMania for the fifth year this semester.

Starting last week and running until the end of March, VCU will compete with more than 500 colleges and universities throughout North America to see who has the best recycling programs.

The friendly competition serves as a benchmark tool for recycling programs at colleges and universities and promotes waste reduction activities that will coincide with community efforts.

“It’s a fun competition because there’s so many schools competing,” said Parker Long, a recent VCU graduate and participant in RecycleMania. “It’s one of the more interesting competitions and events that we can promote.”

Over the 10-week period, schools will report recycling and trash data which will be compiled into a ranking system based on the largest amounts of recyclables per capita, largest total recyclable, least amount of trash per capita and highest recycling rate. Each week, reports are shown and the participating school can use the information to see where improvements can be made and to mobilize students in the competition.

The goals of RecycleMania are to have a fair and friendly recycling competition at VCU, increase recycling participation by students and staff, and heighten awareness of schools’ waste management and recycling programs.

They also hope to expand economic opportunities while addressing environmental issues, lower waste generated on-campus and have the competition act as a catalyst for college and universities to build and expand waste reduction.

“My whole goal was to make recycling simple and convenient so it’s not extra work and you don’t have to have a second thought about it,” said Steven Heinitz, VCU recycling and reuse coordinator. “It’s a behavioral thing and about sustainability. If you recycle people tend to think about using less energy, not using 30 water bottles a month, etc. It’s all related and RecycleMania re-emphasizes the things we want to do all year and reinforce them.”

Past surveys have indicated 80 percent of participating schools experienced a noticeable increase in recycling collection during the competition.

“We’re here as a resource for faculty staff and students,” Heinitz said. “I think it’s just sometimes the mindset of not thinking about recycling, if it’s convenient people will do it. We want to help them continue and establish good habits, and that’s what its really all about.”

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