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RecycleMania 2013 underway

One of the many indicators of spring's approach is the start of RecycleMania on Ohio University campuses. After a two-week preseason period, the intercollegiate recycling competition officially commenced Sunday, Feb. 3.

OHIO joins more than 630 schools representing 49 states and four Canadian provinces in the 13th annual tournament.

RecycleMania is "a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities," according to the program's website.

The new Recycling and Refuse Manager Andrew Ladd has a number of events planned for the competition to increase student and faculty awareness and excitement.

"We'll hold a waste demonstration where we'll empty a few sites, most likely the residence halls, and demonstrate how much stuff was thrown away versus how much stuff was recycled," said Ladd. "Right now that's about a 7:3 ratio, with 70 percent being thrown away and 30 percent recycled, and then properly sort to demonstrate what could have been recycled, which most likely will come out to a 1:9 ratio."

Among the other campaigns planned include opportunities to recycle at on-campus events, partnerships with resident assistants for marketing in residence halls and a public art installation exhibiting one month's worth of recycling. All students interested in participating in the creation of the sculpture are welcome to contact Ladd.

The competition includes eleven categories, from "Grand Champion" – recycling rate as a percentage of overall waste generation – to "Gorilla" – the gross tonnage of combined paper, cardboard, bottles and cans. Targeted materials are paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum, steel and plastic. Ladd is aiming to increase the recovery rate for targeted materials to 45 percent, which, he said, is an attainable target, as last year's rate was 43.27 percent.

With the new Game Day: Basketball category added to the tournament docket, OHIO will make recycling and waste minimization efforts at the Feb. 9 home game against Bowling Green State University.

"We are doing an Adopt-a-Game in which student volunteers are stationed at each trash/recycling/compost station, and we're going to use it as a test to see what recovery rates we can get when there's somebody offering education about how to recycle, what is
recyclable and composting is an option," said Ladd.

EcoReps and Sierra Club will partner up with the Recycling and Refuse department in hopes of spreading awareness about RecycleMania to students. The student organizations have plans to
canvass the residence halls, hang posters, paint the graffiti wall, help with the art installation and the basketball game and constantly update competition rankings outside of the dining halls.

Winning schools receive an award fashioned from recyclable materials and the right to host that category's special traveling trophy until the next competition.

In the 2012 tournament, OHIO's Athens campus dominated the MAC, winning five of the six categories participated in and ranking 43rd overall. Ladd said he hopes to win the MAC again in the main categories of per capita recycling and overall tonnage recovered as well as reaching the top 32 overall.

"The most important is to generate recycling awareness and have people's habits changed," said Ladd. "If there is a section of the student body or faculty and staff that previously was not recycling that as a result of RecycleMania that becomes their new norm, that is probably the biggest purpose for RecycleMania."

Follow @ohiou on Twitter and 'like' Ohio University on Facebook for updates on the RecycleMania challenge.