Feb 03, 2010 at 03:20 PM
written by

New NCAA Sport: Competitive Recycling

As March Madness approaches, schools like California State - San Marcos and Stevens Institute of Technology never had much to celebrate until a new sport swept the nation. There are no lucrative clothing contracts or travel expense budgets, but each March RecycleMania crowns a new champion in eight categories including Targeted Material - Corrugated Cardboard, Per Capital Classic and Waste Minimization.

RecycleMania, which began in 2001 and now reaches over 600 competing schools, aims to use collegians' competitive spirit to increase recycling participation and waste reduction awareness among college students and staff.

Sponsored by Coca Cola, Keep America Beautiful and the American Forest & Paper Association, the contest features eight categories and ranks schools based on who recycles the most on a per capita basis, who produces the least amount of waste and who recycles the largest percentage of their overall waste stream.

Click here to see how your school is doing in the weekly standings.

"RecycleMania's success comes from its ability to use competitive spirit and campus rivalries to motivate students who are less likely to respond to 'save the earth' kinds of messages," according to Stacy Wheeler, co-founder of the RecycleMania competition.

In 2009, 510 participating colleges and universities collected over 69.4 million pounds of recyclables and compostable organics. This prevented the release of 88,739 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E) into the atmosphere.

The RecycleMania competition began in 2001 as a challenge between Miami University of Ohio and Ohio University. Today, it is independently owned and governed by the RecycleMania Steering Committee, which is made up of recycling managers from five participating universities. The 2010 RecycleMania competition is administered by national nonprofit KAB in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WasteWise program. The competition is made possible with the sponsorship support of The Coca-Cola Company, KAB and the American Forest & Paper Association.

"RecycleMania helps students rethink their waste," said Scott Vitters, director of sustainable packaging at The Coca-Cola Company. "Coca-Cola is a proud sponsor of the RecycleMania program. Through the course of the competition, students learn to recognize that bottles, cans, cardboard, and paper are valuable recyclable materials."

As Harvard University's Recycling and Waste Manager Rob Gogan noted, "Colleges are naturally competitive with their rivals. RecycleMania hitches the recycling and conservation bandwagon to that powerful energy."