By Marianna Michael–
RecycleMania, an eight-week event in which colleges and universities compete to find out who can recycle the most items, is underway at the University of Louisville. The competition, which began on Feb. 5 will end on April 6.
This is the second year in which the University will be participating. According to U of L’s sustainability website, last year alone, the university collected 241,782 pounds of recyclable material during the eight weeks, which is approximated to be about 10.91 pounds per person on campus.
Dr. Justin Mog, Assistant to the Provost for Sustainability, said that this initiative was started by residence halls, with full support of the Sustainability Council. Though RecycleMania has only been held at U of L for two years, the competition has been around since 2001 when Ohio University and Miami University started a competition to get their students more involved with recycling.
A university or college campus wins by having the most pounds of recycling per person. This, and the fact that the university had high numbers in the majority of each kind of recycled material, is the reason that U of L beat the University of Kentucky last year.
QRS, which is the recycling company that picks up the materials, weighs the items by separating them into two piles – glass and aluminum – before taking them back to their plant. This is how the university figures out how much weight to report to RecycleMania.
U of L students are able to participate in RecycleMania simply by putting recyclable materials in the bins placed around campus. The university offers a single-stream recycling system, which means that recyclable materials can be deposited in a single recycling bin, regardless of what material it is made of.
According to the 2011 Recycling Report, U of L has almost doubled its aluminum recycling numbers from 12,500 pounds in 2010 to 23,548 pounds in 2011.
The RecycleMania initiative is meant to get more students and faculty involved in recycling, but its effects are questionable. Freshman chemical engineering major Philip Knight said, “I will recycle the same as I usually do because I try to recycle anyway.”
Dr. Mog encourages everyone to recycle anything that may be considered appropriate. As Dr. Mog said, “The numbers from the latest reports suggest that we could be recycling a lot more than we are on campus and that is why events like RecycleMania are important to remind and reengage students and everyone on campus that we can almost recycle every type of waste you have – except Styrofoam – but we are working on that.”