RecycleMania sweeps the University residence halls

Jason Juno

It’s the University versus The Ohio State University and Ivy League schools Harvard University and Yale University.

But the competition doesn’t involve football or academics. This time, it is for the title of top recycling school.

Forty-eight schools, including the University of Minnesota for the first time, are vying to be recognized as the country’s top recycler in the RecycleMania competition, said Dana Donatucci, University of Minnesota recycling coordinator.

The University of Minnesota must track how much recycling the residence halls do each week for 10 weeks and report it to RecycleMania, according to the competition’s Web site. The worst week for recycling is dropped, it stated.

RecycleMania wraps up April 9, according to the Web site.

Various types of paper, cans, bottles and cardboard are tracked in the program, Donatucci said.

The winner will receive a trophy, but the goal is to increase recycling, officials said.

The University of Minnesota marketed the event by putting up signs at the residence halls, said Jenn Rowe, spokeswoman for Facilities Management.

The University of Minnesota chose to only include residence halls instead of the entire campus, Donatucci said. It would be too difficult to measure everything that is recycled each week, because the University measures its recycling monthly, he said.

Other participating universities included recycling on their entire campuses.

Second-year University of Minnesota student Kyrra Meier, who works at Sanford Hall, said she had not heard of RecycleMania or seen the posters at the residence hall, but she does recycle.

Officials want students to get involved

Rowe and Donatucci each said the University of Minnesota is hopeful students will become engaged in recycling and RecycleMania is a step in that direction. Rowe said she thinks students would get more involved if recycling were seen as a competition against other universities, such as sports competitions.

She said the University of Minnesota will send out an e-mail telling students about the “quad system” and how to use the correct containers.

The system uses four containers placed in buildings around campus. The containers are split up into four sections to recycle office paper, newspaper and other paper – such as telephone directories – aluminum cans and bottles. It also has one section for garbage, she said.

Why recycle?

Increasing recycling makes getting rid of waste less expensive and is good for the environment, Donatucci said.

He said the University of Minnesota makes approximately 14 cents per pound when selling recycled goods. The University recycles approximately 12 tons per day of its 30-plus tons of waste.

The amount the University of Minnesota recycles is approximately average for universities in the United States, which is rare for such a large campus, Donatucci said.

Kevin Clay, of the University of Minnesota student group EcoWatch, said recycling is a great thing for the environment. But, he said, advances must be made in the original manufacturing of products, so they don’t become garbage later.