Baylor improves recycling effort, leads the Big 12 in competition

By Megan Grindstaff

RecycleMania, which allows schools from the United States and Canada compete in various recycling challenges, finished up its third week of competition.

As of last week, Baylor is posting better numbers than last year for the three main categories of competition, Per Capita Classic, Gorilla and Waste Minimization.

Out of the 441 participating schools from the United States and Canada, Baylor is ranked in the top 75 in all three components of competition. Baylor also leads the Big XII in Per Capita Classic and Waste Minimization.

“The number we really look at is the Per Capita,” said Smith Getterman, assistant director of sustainability and special projects. “Because that is the most fair way of keeping track—keeping it even between us and all the other universities in the Big 12.”

The Stephen K Gaski Per Capita Classic is a traditional RecycleMania competition. In this category, schools compete for the most pounds of recycled paper, cardboard and bottles per person. The weight of collected recyclables is divided by the campus population, and the campus with the highest number per person wins. Through the third week of the competition in 2013, Baylor had collected 2.98 pounds/person, as opposed to a whopping 5.99 pounds/person this year.

The Gorilla Prize goes to the school with the highest gross tonnage of recycling over the course of the competition. Large universities with strong recycling programs typically dominate the Gorilla category. In 2013, Baylor had collected 52,480 pounds of recyclables, but this year the campus has doubled gross tonnage, collecting 105,360 pounds.

Waste Minimization measures the amount of recyclables and trash collected by the university and divides it by campus population to determine the average amount of waste produced by each person. At this point in 2013, each Baylor student had produced 14.77 pounds of waste, but this year the number is only 11.14 pounds.

As part of the waste minimization aspect of the competition, Baylor pledged to reduce waste through the use of environmentally conscious printer settings and paper reducing software, the availability of reusable plates, cups and utensils in the dining halls and creating educational programming to inform faculty, staff and students about waste minimization practices.

The improvement on last year’s marks comes from heightened awareness and interest in sustainability throughout the student body, said Fort Worth senior Claire Allen. As a member of the Sustainability Student Advisory board, Allen plays an active role in getting her peers involved in going green on campus.

“In general, we’ve really wanted to focus on social media outreach” Allen said.

Getterman said getting back to the basics by focusing on recycling is crucial to continuing to become more sustainable as a university.

“We’ll never be finished with recycling until we are a zero-waste campus,” Getterman said.