AU currently ranks first in RecycleMania’s waste reduction competition, but it’s not over yet.
RecycleMania is an eight-week competition open to all colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada that started Feb. 5 and ends March 31.
AU ranked second in the Grand Champion category after the first week of the competition and has held the top spot during the successive five weeks.
Larger schools do better in certain categories, including “Gorilla,” which looks at the total amount of recyclables generated. Smaller schools rank better in categories such as “Waste Minimization,” which rewards schools with the lowest amount of trash generated, according to Joshua Kaplan, the sustainability outreach specialist in the Office of Sustainability at AU.
AU’s recycling rate is currently 89 percent, with California State University-San Marcos trailing at 78 percent, according to RecyleMania’s website.
AU organizations and offices such as the Office of Sustainability, EcoSense, Student Government and the Residence Hall Association have held nine on-campus sustainability events, Kaplan said.
The Office of Sustainability’s Green Eagles hosted two can drives at AU Men’s Basketball games in partnership with the Athletics Department, Kaplan said. Students could bring an empty Coke can or bottle and receive a new bottle for free as well as play “trashketball” for a chance to win assorted prizes, according to AU’s RecycleMania website.
There was also a two-day drive to collect electronic waste such as cell phones, fax machines, laptops, monitors and chargers from students, faculty and staff.
E-Asset Solutions wiped the data from the electronics collected and properly recycled all of the components, said Helen Lee, the zero-waste coordinator for AU. A similar e-waste drive will be held on campus four times a year from now on, Kaplan said.
“Reclaim, Reimagine, Recreate: Recycled Sculpture Competition” featured student art composed only of recycled materials in the Katzen Arts Center on March 7, including “some lovely Truffula trees, flowers made of pens, a painting with leftover cigarette butts and a house with walls supported by birth control packets,” Katherine Sibel, a freshman in SIS and a Green Eagle, said via email.
This is the third year AU has participated in RecycleMania. AU came in third place in the Grand Champion category in 2010, according to Kaplan.
AU came in 193rd in 2011, according to Kaplan.
“There hasn’t been a significant change in recycling behavior on campus, but there has been inconsistency in reporting from the people that we get our data from [Consolidated Waste Industries, Inc.], that are a third party,” Chris O’Brien, director of sustainability, told ATV in February 2012. “So that is what really explains the dramatic swing.”
AU pays CWI an additional sorting fee to hand-sort recyclables from the University’s trash, said Trisha Jenkins, a representative of CWI.
Jenkins said CWI has had no problems providing consumers monthly information about the amount of recyclable material being removed from their trash.
Students can still get involved with RecycleMania on a daily basis by sorting recyclables from trash, bringing their own mug to the Davenport Lounge and participating in the weekly AU Community Trash Cleanup Thursdays from 3 to 3:30 p.m. in front of the Ward Circle Building, Sibel said.