ATHENS, Ohio (May 1, 2006) -- RecycleMania 2006 is over and the good news is Ohio University finished 11th in the Per Capita Classic contest, part of a national campaign to increase awareness and participation in waste consumption and disposal across colleges in the country.
Oregon State University beat out 87 schools in the Per Capita Classic, totaling 91.35 pounds of recyclables per person. Miami University took third with 80.19 pounds per person. Ohio totaled 41.24 pounds per person.
The university's high finish contrasted with its lower finish in the Waste Minimization contest, which indicates there's a vast opportunity for improvement next year.
"As new schools joined the competition, it was recognized that the Per Capita Classic contest wasn't representing what was going on over all, which is why the Waste Minimization contest was added," said Ed Newman, Ohio University refuse and recycling manager and co-founder of RecycleMania.
In the Waste Minimization contest, Ohio University finished 33rd of 43 participants. Point Loma Nazarene University finished first with 35 pounds of waste per person. Ohio University totaled 150.65 pounds of waste in the competition.
Ohio University finished 18th of 45 schools in the Grand Champion standings with a 27.37 percent recycling rate, ahead of both Harvard University and Yale University. California State San Marcos University won that competition with a 50.9 percent rate. The Grand Champion combines the other two contests to determine an overall winner.
"Even though we've recycled between 25 and 35 percent of our waste over the years, probably 60 to 70 percent of what's in our waste that we still throw away is recyclable. That's reflected in the competition this year," Newman said.
Two traveling trophies were given to winners last year. This year, Bascom French IV, the shop supervisor in the chemistry and biochemistry departments at Ohio University, made a third trophy. All three of the trophies are welded together out of "junk."
"If you consider all 93 schools that competed, we're considerably higher because a lot of the schools didn't compete in both competitions," Newman added. "Miami, for example, is probably similar to us in waster generation but it wouldn't have made them look as good."
Ohio University finished fifth in total corrugated cardboard recycled as a targeted material for recycling. A final of 18.15 pounds of it per person was recycled during the contest.
"Each year, Ohio University is generating more waste overall," Newman said.
The most waste comes from disposables from food services on campus, such as with Grab-N-Go and sporting events. Having refrigerators in the rooms, students generate more waste, and printing waste from over 28,000 computers on campus also adds waste, as well as using a lot of energy.
"All the leaders in all the events were from the West Coast this year, Oregon State, San Marcos, and Point Wilma. In California, Oregon and Washington there are more laws that encourage recycling. Those states tend to be ahead in public policy when it comes to consumption and disposal," Newman said. "In contrast, Ohio is one of the largest importers of waste in the nation.
"The whole focus here on how to manage consumption and disposal in the state is vastly different then places like the West Coast. They're more progressive out there. The consciousness out there is more elevated," he said.
Since RecycleMania began in 2001 between Ohio University and Miami University, the contest has doubled in participants each year. In 2002, Bowling Green State University and Harvard University were added. In 2003, the number of participants doubled again, and in 2004, 17 schools competed. Last year 47 schools competed and the number of participants topped out this year at 93.
"There's still potential for a lot more growth," Newman said.
Florida schools are looking to enter the competition next year as Stacy Edmounds, co-founder of RecycleMania, recruits there. No schools from the state have ever competed. Pennsylvania was the state with the most participants this year totaling seven. Ohio had six.
"It keeps evolving and we try to get it to be a participatory process where people are weighing in on what works, what doesn't and what would be better next year," Newman said. "Before we know it, it'll be time to get ready for next year's competition."
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