Contest promotes green campuses

By Leigh Ann Henry

Jan. 23 marked the beginning of a nationwide recycling competition between colleges and universities.

Recyclemania is an annual competition that lasts 10 weeks, but schools send in their recycling totals for only the last eight weeks of the competition.

The first two weeks of the competition are a non-binding preseason, but from Sunday through April 2 recycling totals from each participating school will be submitted weekly.

“It’s an opportunity, number one, to concentrate for 10 weeks on education about recycling in our community,” said Carl Flynn, director of marketing communications for IT and libraries.

Recyclemania originated in 2001 when students from Ohio University and Miami University decided there was a need to increase recycling at schools across the country.

For Recyclemania 2011, about 620 schools currently registered for participation and 43 of those are located in Texas.

Recyclemania surveys indicate “80 percent of participating schools experienced a noticeable increase in recycling collection during the competition.”

The competition hosts two divisions: benchmark and competition.

The benchmark division is much less formal and requires the schools to submit their totals, but the campuses are not ranked. The competition division requires totals submitted weekly where the campuses will be pitted against each other and organized from most recycled to least.

Once posted, the information can be followed online weekly.

Baylor is registered for the competition division along with 384 other colleges and universities, 22 from Texas.

Over the 10 weeks in which Recyclemania takes place, schools will record and report the weight of recycled materials including bottles, cans, paper, cardboard and trash.

The data is organized according to who collects the most recyclables per capita, total recyclables, least amount of trash per capita and highest recycling rate.

In the fall 2010 semester, 100 Baylor students took part in the first campuswide survey regarding recycling know-how, organized by the sustainability department at Baylor.

“The focus this year is recycling education. We want students to know what they can recycle on campus and where they can recycle on campus — currently, students just don’t know,” said Smith Getterman, sustainability coordinator at Baylor.

The survey also housed a comments and suggestions section where survey participants could leave their thoughts.

Most of the student proposals from this survey included the need for additional recycling receptacles or centralized placement near trashcans along with the need for glass recycling capability.

Getterman said recyclable items include paper, cardboard, plastics and aluminum, but there is currently no method for recycling glass. Ideas are being discussed to try and resolve this matter.

Baylor has more than 800 recycling receptacles located around campus that may be found in the Moody and Jones Library, the Bill Daniel Student Center, Hankamer School of Business, Baylor Sciences Building, all of the residence halls and many other locations around campus.

“You’re not doing it alone. It’s a friendly competition and goal if we can get some school spirit behind it,” said Flynn, who also helps oversee sustainability at Baylor.

In 2010 Baylor’s involvement in the competition left the university ranked third for overall highest recycling rate among other schools from the Big 12 conference, with Colorado and Missouri ranking first and second.