By Jessica Alfrey
Ohio University can add "excellence in recycling" to its resume based on its finish in several categories during the recent RecycleMania competition. In all, the Athens campus generated nearly 400,000 pounds of recyclables during the 10-week contest.
Inspired seven years ago by Ohio University Recycling and Reuse Manager Ed Newman and his counterpart at Miami University, this year's contest pitted 400 colleges and universities across the nation against one another to see which could recycle and reduce waste the most.
Nationwide, this year's competition generated 58.6 million pounds of recyclables, according to results released Wednesday.
In the competition's Per Capita Classic, Ohio University placed first among eight Ohio schools whose entire campuses -- not just residence halls -- participated, with 16.08 pounds of recyclables per capita. Next was Ohio Wesleyan University with 15.30 pounds and Mount Union College with 10.49 pounds.
Ohio also had a strong showing in the Gorilla Prize category for the highest gross tonnage of recyclables, finishing 31st among 200 schools. Overall, the university community kept 399,548 pounds of recyclables out of the waste stream, second only to Ohio State, which recycled 592,140 pounds.
Newman and his Recycling and Reuse staff were inventive in developing ways for the campus community to participate this year:
- Through the Adopt-a-Games promotion, organizations such as Student Senate worked with the Newman's staff to collect recyclables after Bobcat basketball games.
- Students conducted Dorm Storms, going door-to-door in several residence halls to collect residents' recyclables.
Several students involved in the Dorm Storms, including Molly Shea, a sophomore RA in Jefferson Hall, were prompted to launch an environmental group, Jefferson Conservation Awareness Network (CAN). "I'm hoping to raise awareness in general," Shea said, "and to get people who are already aware to be more proactive."
That's good news to Newman, who wants to see the enthusiasm and awareness generated by RecycleMania continue through spring quarter and beyond.
"Move-out is the single most waste-generating time of year," he said. "Two weeks ahead of time, we'll be setting up additional opportunities for residence halls to recover materials."
Newman's staff will establish food collection points in each residence hall along with designated areas to drop off unneeded clothing, bedding and electronics. Through such efforts last year, the university donated several hundred pickup truck loads of items for area residents in need.
Newman said his pride in Ohio University drives him to want to do well in the competition.
"We're kind of a model," he said. "We're setting the tone for the smaller schools in Ohio. We want to show people what we're achieving so they say, 'We should be operating like that.' We want to influence people to do things in a better way and to integrate this into the academic mission as much as possible."
Visit the RecycleMania site for a full list of results from this year's competition.
Departments or individuals can put in a work request for pickup of recoverable materials by calling Facilities and Auxiliaries at 740-593-2911 or the Recycling and Reuse Office at 740-593-0231.
Lancaster campus results
Ohio University-Lancaster, competing in Recyclemania for the first time this year, had notable performances in the contest's targeted materials category.
In the bottles and cans category, the campus placed 15th out of 161 schools nationwide, recycling 7.79 pounds per person. It was enough to place the school near Ivy Leaguers such as Princeton and Stanford. The performance easily won first place among the five Ohio schools, with Ohio Wesleyan University taking a far second place with 1.68 pounds per person.
In the area of paper, the Lancaster campus placed 32nd out of 163 schools nationally, recycling 12.17 pounds of paper per person. Out of the five schools in Ohio, the Lancaster campus placed first, far ahead of second place Wilmington College with 6.33 pounds and Wright State's main campus in third with 2.75 pounds.
In cardboard, the campus recycled 5.67 pounds per person to place them 65th out of 160 nationally.