January 15, 2009

Campus Community Encouraged to Do Some "Trash Talking" in Nationwide Recyclemania Competition

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Case Western Reserve University is "throwing down" by not throwing away, but by recycling and reducing waste as it enters RecycleMania for the first time. The annual friendly nationwide competition between colleges and universities begins Sunday, January 18, and runs through Saturday, March 28.

The 10-week event pits schools against each other to see who can motivate their campus communities to recycle more and reduce overall waste. Rankings and results will be posted weekly beginning January 30. The school that collects the most recyclable trash and reduces overall campus waste wins the grand prize and the RecycleMania trophy.

"While recycling may seem 'elementary' compared to other cutting edge aspects of campus sustainability, such as renewable energy, it remains a significant and daily way each one of us can participate in creating a more sustainable campus," said Linda Robson, sustainability coordinator at Case Western Reserve. "RecycleMania offers us something to focus on as a campus. [Participating in RecylceMania] is something the university has been interested in for a few years."

Each week during the competition, campuses compete head-to-head to see which institution can collect the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate.

In July, Case Western Reserve President Barbara R. Snyder signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, a high-visibility effort to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions, and to accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth's climate. Earlier in the year, the university also joined the United Nations Global Compact, which lists safeguarding the environment as one of its founding principles.

In its first year involved in RecyleMania, Case Western Reserve will participate in two categories —waste management and the "Per Capita Classic."

Waste minimization focuses on overall waste reduction instead of recycling. Schools compete to see who can generate the lowest amount of total waste per capita, which includes both trash and recycling. The "Per Capita Classic" is the amount of recycling generated per person at the university.

According to the College and University Recycling Council (CURC), which oversees the RecycleMania project, surveys have indicated 80 percent of participating schools experienced a noticeable increase in recycling collection during the competition.

Started in earnest at Miami (Ohio) University and Ohio University in 2001, RecycleMania grew to include over 400 participating schools last year. In each of the past two years, competitors have produced a combined 40-plus million pounds of recycled materials.

"Our hope is that once people get into the habit, they'll see how easy and convenient recycling is and will maintain these habits after the competition is over," said Robson. "Raising people's awareness and increasing campuswide participation results not only in a cost savings for the university, but offers each member of the university community a way to reduce their own carbon footprint."

When individuals produce less waste, less waste is sent to landfills thereby reducing the emission of methane, a potent greenhouse gas created by landfills.

Case Daily and the Observer will provide weekly updates throughout the 10-week RecycleMania contest.

Before the games begin, Robson offers a few simple tips to get a good head start on the competition:

  • Use interoffice reusable envelopes for campus mail;
  • Replace paper documents with online alternatives wherever possible, like Blackboard for posting course-related information;
  • Use of efficient printer settings and paper reduction. Adjusting document margins and printing double-sided can reduce paper consumption by nearly half; and
  • Reuse coffee mugs and water bottles instead of paper, plastic or Styrofoam cups, which account for a large portion of the university's daily trash.

For more information contact Jason Tirotta, 216.368.6890.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, January 15, 2009 10:55 AM | News Topics: Campus Life, Environment, Faculty, Staff, Students, sustainability

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