MU prepares for annual RecycleMania

About 600 universities across the U.S. and Canada compete in the eight-week contest.
Laura Davis / Graphic Designer

MU will compete against hundreds of colleges and universities across the United States and Canada in the 2014 RecycleMania.

The competition, run by the non-profit organization RecycleMania Inc., starts Feb. 3 and concludes March 28.

The program serves as a friendly competition as well as a benchmarking tool for universities’ waste reduction activities, Sustainability Office spokeswoman Alicia LaVaute said.

“This is a great (competition) because it generates a lot of attention to recycling and all of our campus sustainability efforts,” she said.

The Sustainability Office and Campus Facilities will be working with building coordinators to try something new for this year’s competition, Campus Facilities spokesperson Karlan Seville said.

“We are offering to bring them extra recycling containers to do some spring cleaning during RecycleMania and hopefully increase our paper recycling,” Seville said. “As for students, we are concentrating on recycling cans and bottles. Instead of finding the nearest trash can, (they should) take an extra step to look for the recycling container that is nearby.”

The Sustainability Office and Campus Facilities will continue to work with University Hospital and Campus Dining Services to collect recycled paper and compost materials, LaVaute said.

In order to reach out to students on recycling their cans and bottles, student staff at the Sustainability Office will set up information tables once a week at the MU Student Center, where they will distribute reusable RecycleMania water bottles and sunglasses made from recycled plastic.

Seniors Ben Kreitner and Chelsea Kaplan are among the students who will participate in the outreach activity.

“We’re really excited,” Kaplan said. “Last year, we scored pretty highly and did really well for such a large university, especially in the Midwest. We really stepped up our game, and I think we’ll be even better and rank even higher this year.”

Kreitner added that participation is especially vital for large universities like MU.

“The challenge with a large campus is that because everyone is spread out, trying to consolidate all of the recycling into one area and measuring it all is a challenge,” he said.

MU has been participating in RecycleMania for the last seven years.

Last year, UM-Kansas City won the “Grand Champion” title with a recycling rate — the ratio of recycled material to total waste a university produces — of 86 percent.

“We are really proud (UMKC) made it to No. 1 because the Midwest is not known as the mecca of recycling and sustainability,” LaVaute said.

MU placed 20th out of 523 colleges and universities in the Gorilla category last year, which is based on the total weight of all materials recycled on campus, with 541,477 pounds of recycling collected over eight weeks.

“This is a very strong category of the University of Missouri because we are a very large university with a really solid recycling program,” LaVaute said.

LaVaute said she would like to see a continuous improvement in MU’s recycling performance, as opposed to a one-time increase.

“In general, I would like to see our percentages — in terms of pounds-per-person recycled, or how much paper or cardboard we’ve recycled per person — increase on a yearly basis,” she said.

Students and faculty of participating schools can track their progress by visiting RecycleMania’s online scoreboard, which will be updated on a weekly basis.

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