What Is Recyclemania?

Generally, colleges try to avoid having the word “mania” associated with their activities. But Recyclemania is the exception. Recyclemania sounds like what it is, one of the world’s biggest and best recycling competitions!

Every year, a growing number of colleges compete from February to April to become the college that recycles the most materials. Every college wants to present itself as a force for good, and what better way can they do this than proving that they’re one of America’s top recycling colleges!?

To check out our ranking of the Top 50 Colleges With The Best Recycling Programs for 2019, click here !

Recyclemania has been running since 2001. In its first year, it was a challenge between only Ohio University and Miami University. But each year, more and more colleges have wanted to compete for the title of top recycling college in America and Canada. It’s fair to say that Recyclemania has snowballed in recent years. To date, over 1,000 colleges have competed.

A non-profit organization runs Recyclemania. Its leadership is comprised of faculty members from a range of America’s most innovative colleges as well as representatives from the National Wildlife Foundation. Every year, they’re responsible for ensuring that the competitions run smoothly and that every college follows the rules.

At the end of every competition, the only prize is the glory of being one of America’s top recycling colleges.

That means that overall, Recyclemania is one of the most reliable measures of the colleges that care about their planet the most at this moment in time!

2018 vs 2019

In the present day, Recyclemania is stronger than ever. American and Canadian colleges love participating in it and are keen to raise their ranking!

2018 saw 3.6 million students from colleges across the USA and Canada take part. Overall 68.6 million pounds of waste were recycled and composted. However, each Recyclemania competition aims to be bigger and better for the planet than the last.

By anyone’s standards, 2019 saw a strong level of growth in participation.

2019’s tally saw over 5.1 million students, faculty and staff participate from American and Canadian colleges. They recycled and composted 69.5 million pounds of waste. In the process, they also cut out the use of 300 million single-use plastic bottles.

To really understand the growth from Recyclemania 2018 to Recyclemania 2019, just take a look at the increase in the prevention of the release of carbon dioxide. In 2018, 94,152 metric tons of carbon dioxide were prevented from being released into the atmosphere. But in 2019, 99,254 metric tons of carbon dioxide were prevented from being released into the atmosphere.

To get these overall large figures, Recyclemania analyzes the data that all of the colleges provide but what, exactly, gets measured?

The Data That Colleges Provide To Recyclemania

Over the eight weeks of each Recyclemania competition, the participating colleges have to post some of their recycling figures weekly. The diversion and per-capita recycling levels are given to Recyclemania every week between Monday and Wednesday.

There is also a one time report of total recycling figures of game day basketball, E-cycling and the college’s overall race to zero waste.

Here are some easy definitions of exactly what these data categories mean:

Diversion Level – The total amount of waste recycled, food organics composted and trash that the college didn’t recycle, which are then all combined into a percentage figure of how much the college did recycle.

Per-Capita Recycling Level – This measures the total weight of material that the college recycled and then divides it by the population of the college to see how many pounds of waste are being recycled per person in the college’s community. This section does not include food waste or electronics recycled.

Food Organics Recycling Level – This is a measure of the food and associated materials (such as cooking grease and non-reusable containers) that are composted or recycled in another way. Recyclemania assigns points to each college based on how effectively they reuse this food waste.

Game Day Basketball Recycling Level – This measures how much recycling and waste diversion occurred at a single one of each college’s home basketball games. This serves as a measure of how much each college is recycling at its sporting events overall.

E-cycling Level – Known as E-cycleMania, this tracks how much electronic waste was recycled at a college over one month of the competition. The measurement is in tons.

Zero Waste Level – This measures the efforts that colleges are implementing to become known as zero waste campuses, which is defined as a college that recycles or diverts 90% of its materials. The competition measures this by looking at the recycling conducted at a single campus building per college.

The Major Winners In 2019

The following colleges all came out at the top of Recyclemania’s categories in 2019. Their efforts serve as strong examples for not only other colleges but for all organizations and their recycling activities.

Loyola Marymount University
Los Angeles, California

college recycling statistics

Of all the participants of Recyclemania 2019, Loyola Marymount University is the only one to win two of the major competitions. It managed to divert the largest amount of waste of any college in America, with an 89% recycling rate overall. That’s 8% higher than the next best college. It also puts the campus at being just 1% away from being a zero-waste college! (However, as it did not enter a building into the zero waste competition, the college does not feature in that category) Loyola Marymount University also won the per capita recycling level category. It managed to recycle 79 pounds of trash per student. That puts it an amazing 16 pounds above the next best performing college.

Knox College
Galesburg, Illinois

When it comes to disposing of food waste, no other college could come close to matching Knox College’s composting and recycling levels. Overall, Recyclemania gave Knox College 54 points for food organics recycling. The next highest ranking college scored 39 points.

Southwestern College
Chula Vista, California

The amount of electronics waste that Southwestern College recycles is staggering. In 2019, it recycled 16.58 pounds of electronics per person. The next highest scoring college managed to recycle just 3.96 pounds per person. Overall, 12,520 tons of e-waste were recycled.

Saint Louis University, Main Campus
St. Louis, Missouri

In 2019, Saint Louis University’s main campus managed to recycle an amazing 66,480 tons of electronics. This almost 3,000 tons more than the next highest college. The college was able to achieve this figure through a number of programs. But what really boosted its level was the special collection events it holds that encourage the community to bring in electronic waste from off campus.

Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio

For the game day basketball category, Ohio State University decided to enter its Big Ten athletic event. This event had an attendance of over 14,000 people. It managed to recycle an amazing 99% of the waste from this event, which amounted to 4,535 pounds of recycled material. The weight of its entire waste at the event was 4,562 pounds.

Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey

Like Ohio State University, Rutgers University also hosted a Big 10 event. While the college’s percentage of recycled material was only 74%, the per capita recycling amount was very high The college’s event attendance was 8,400 people and led to the recycling of 0.5 pounds of waste per person. Overall, 3,927 pounds of material was recycled at this event.

Union College
Schenectady, New York

Union College has been recognized as a college that is doing its best to get to zero waste. The college entered its residential building as an example of its efforts to reduce waste. During the competition, the building produced 179 pounds of waste. 48 pounds of this were recycled, 47 pounds was composted and 84 pounds went to a landfill. This was a significant reduction in the amount of trash that went to a landfill before the competition began.

Berkshire Community College
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Although Berkshire Community College’s recycling rate has only increased by less than 1% from 2018 to 2019, it maintains its position as one of America’s top recycling colleges. In 2018, the college recycled 80.8% of its waste. In 2019, it recycled 81.4% of its waste. But the college also rose one place in the national rankings from third to second. Overall, this shows that the Berkshire Community College community has every reason to be proud of its efforts.

Drew University
Madison, New Jersey

From 2018 to 2019, Drew University managed to improve its per capita recycling rank from seventh place to fifth place. It also managed to increase the amount of recycling per person from 51 pounds in 2018 to 57 pounds in 2019. Clearly, the college is determined to maintain (and improve upon) its top 10 ranking in future years.

Western Technical College
La Crosse, Wisconsin

While the increase in food waste composting at Western Technical College only saw a slight increase in point scoring in 2019, it was still enough for the college to rise from third to second place. This score rose from 38.44 to 39.84. It shows that food recycling improvements at the college are coming slowly, but once they are implemented, they become a permanent part of its activities.

Rapidly Improving Colleges

Some colleges didn’t top any rankings, or even come near the top, but did enjoy significant gains in their waste reduction levels. Here are the colleges that are implementing recycling practices with rapidly increasing success:

Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Minneapolis, Minnesota

The overall diversion rate at Minneapolis College of Art and Design increased from 60% in 2018 to 66% in 2019. This saw the college rise in the rankings from 14 th place to 6 th place.

Guilford College
Greensboro, North Carolina

In terms of food waste composting, Guilford College has really stepped its efforts up. In 2018, it came in 24 th place, gaining 20 points. But in 2019, it came in seventh place, earning 30 points.

Agnes Scott College
Decatur, Georgia

In the last year, Agnes Scott College has managed to recycle a significantly larger amount of waste per person. In 2018, it managed to recycle 28 pounds of waste per-capita, placing at 24 th . But in 2018, it managed to recycle 48 pounds of trash per-capita, ranking at seventh.

Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona

When it comes to game day basketball, Arizona State University has started recycling much more of the waste produced at these events. In 2018, 77% of its waste was recycled. But in 2019, it managed to attain an 88% recycling rate, recycling 334 pounds of waste.

Texas Tech University
Lubbock, Texas

Though it still has a long way to go, Texas Tech University is showing that it is ramping up its game day basketball recycling efforts. In 2018, only 0.066 pounds of waste were recycled per person. But in 2019, 0.149 pounds of waste were recycled per person.

Cornell University
Ithaca, New York

This college was able to almost double the number of electronics that it recycled in one year. In 2018, Cornell University recycled 38,000 tons of electronics. But in 2019, it managed to recycle 62,000 tons of electronics.

Harvard University
Boston, Massachusetts

The long term goal of Harvard University is to become a zero-waste college. This goal is still a long way off. However, it did manage to divert a lot more waste from landfills from its library from 2018 to 2019. In 2018 12,130 pounds of waste were sent to landfills, but in 2019 8,943 pounds of trash were sent to landfills.

Kent State University
Kent, Ohio

In 2019, Kent State University managed to recycle over 5,600 tons more of electronics than it had in the previous year. In 2018, the electronics recycling rate was a very strong 26,894 tons. But in 2019, this increased to 32,513 tons. This means that Kent State University ranked at eighth place in 2019’s Recyclemania e-cycling competition.

Colleges That Are Falling In The Rankings

Sadly, some colleges have managed to recycle less in 2019 than they did in 2018. Every college in America should be striving to recycle more and more every year. So a drop in recycling percentages is always worrying. The colleges with lowering recycling rates are as follows:

Macalester College
Saint Paul, Minnesota

While Macalester College is undoubtedly a college that puts a lot of effort into recycling, there is no denying that its 2019 result was disappointing. In 2018, it had an overall recycling rate of 79%. That made it the fourth best college for recycling in America. But in 2019, its recycling rate dropped to 64%. Likewise, its ranking dropped to 10 th place.

North Lake College
Irving, Texas

The food recycling program at North Lake College appears to have hit some serious setbacks in 2019. In 2018, the college managed to rank as the second best food waste composting college, with a score of 41.8 from Recyclemania . But in 2019, the college ranked at 147 th , which is second from last place, scoring only 1 point .

University of Texas Medical Branch
Galveston, Texas

With a fifth-place ranking in 2018, University of Texas Medical Branch was able to recycle 64.8 pounds of waste per person. But in 2019, its ranking dropped to 10 th place, managing to recycle 44 pounds of waste per person.

University of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh Campus
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

When it comes to game day basketball, University of Pittsburgh appears to be inconsistent in its recycling approach. In 2018, it managed to recycle 60% of its total trash in one game day event. But in 2019, it managed to recycle just 18% of its trash at a similar event.

Edmonds Community College
Lynwood, Washington

The game day recycling rate per person at Edmonds Community College needs a lot of work. Its 2018 level was not incredible at 0.016 pounds per person. But this rate fell sharply in 2019 to just 0.002 pounds per person.

Endicott College
Beverly, Massachusetts

In 2019, Endicott College was able to recycle less than half of the electronics than it managed to recycle in 2018. The college recycled 917 tons of electronics in 2018. But the college only recycled 436 tons of electronics in 2019.

Overall Trends

Numerous colleges in America have pledged to become zero waste campuses. Some aim to achieve that goal as soon as 2020. Whether that can be achieved remains to be seen, but Recyclemania’s results show that right now, the only college on the verge of achieving zero waste is Loyola Marymount University. Others are heading towards this, but unless they implement some major new programs, they may miss their deadlines.

But the results do show that, overall, colleges are making progress in their recycling goals. However, the progress may not be as easy as many faculty/staff members envisioned, and the progress may vary from year to year. But this is true about many aspects of college administration. The many categories and measures of Recyclemania effectively illustrate for these colleges that recycling does not just come down to having recycling trash cans on campus or hosting occasional recycling events. However, many colleges are striving to improve themselves and learn from others. Thanks to this effort, all colleges in America can implement recycling efforts that do all they can to help the planet.

It seems certain that Recyclemania will last for many more years. The results of future competitions will be interesting. They will document when eco-conscious colleges achieve their aim of being zero waste campuses and will help ensure that these campuses maintain their status as zero waste producers.

Reyclemania has, at its heart, shown colleges in America and Canada why recycling enthusiastically will pay off when it comes to reputation. It has also shown that when you encourage the community of your college to participate in ecological activities, the community will be more than happy to do this.

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