ReycleMania begins; looks to save recyclables from landfill
By April Robertson
Officials are seeing more interest in sustainability as a campus-wide competition for recycling goes underway. The third annual “RecycleMania” started February 1 and will end with the close of Spring Break, March 27, as a way to evaluate how much each person recycles and encourage the optimization of recycling, as well as reduce the amount of trash overall.
RecycleMania is not limited to students living in residence halls and Greek housing: it also includes other campus buildings, so faculty and staff are encouraged to participate.
Students are encouraged by the campus recycling officials to make a commitment to stop throwing away recyclables and to prevent contamination by using the correct bin for the recycled item.
Since the UA has participated in previous years, the process of the competition is well established and there is little to no change this year in that respect.
However, this year Chancellor Gearhart wrote a letter promoting the event. Part of it addressed his personal recycling goals, but it also addressed the competition. “RecycleMania is a wonderful opportunity for faculty, staff and students to show their commitment to recycling and to look for ways to increase the amount of paper, cardboard and cans/bottles that we can divert from the local landfill,” he said.
UA took an important step in the sustainability process by becoming a charter signatory of the Presidents Climate Commitment. This includes participating in the Waste Minimization Category of RecycleMania.
In fact, the UA was first in the SEC in the Waste Minimization and Grand Champion categories of RecycleMania in 2008.
“At the urging of Dr. Nick Brown, our Director of Sustainability at Facilities Management, we’ve gone a step further by participating in several other categories,” said Gary Enzor, UA Recycling Coordinator.
The 2009 competition was not nearly as successful for the UA because the amount recycled only increased seven percent. But Enzor predicts better results this year.
RecycleMania normally collects 10 tons of paper, cardboard and cans/bottles per week on campus. In the 2008 RecycleMania, the UA averaged 14 tons per week: a 40 percent increase. “A portion of that sticks and the amount of recyclables collected increases permanently,” he said.
“This year, there seems to be more interest in sustainability and recycling within the campus community,” Enzor said. He suggested that the 2009 results were directly related to the economic downturn, so recycling efforts might be a barometer for the status of the economy. “When people don’t buy as much stuff then there’s ultimately less to recycle. It seems to me in the recycling business that we’re well on our way to a more healthy economy.”
Enzor said the recycling goal this year is to double the amount of recyclables collected. “If we can collect 20 tons per week, we’ll be the hands-down winners in the SEC…we want to win,” he said.
In 18 years, UA increased the amount of collected recyclables from 50 tons to 500 tons.
“But, we haven’t stopped there…we’re actively looking to become more sustainable and we’re looking to find anything and everything that we can divert from and expensive trip to the landfill.”