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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

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The annual RecycleMania competition begins Monday, Feb. 2 and will continue for eight weeks.

The annual RecycleMania competition begins Monday, Feb. 2 and will continue for eight weeks.

Photographer: Samantha Owens/Ohio University

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Ohio University competes to win RecycleMania competition

Annual event raises awareness and increases recycling rates nationwide


Ohio University is once again looking to claim top honors in the RecycleMania competition, which starts Feb. 2 and ends in late March. The eight-week competition pits colleges across the nation in friendly rivalry to recycle the most materials.  

In 2014, OHIO won the competition against colleges in the Mid-American Conference, and claimed 21st place in the overall national competition, which pitted 431 colleges and universities against each other. The University won seven of nine categories in the MAC, including the three primary categories of Grand Champion, Per Capita Classic and Gorilla Prize.

OHIO surpassed its goal of diverting more than three quarters of a million pounds from the landfill during the eight-week competition in 2014 and recycled a total of 514,803 pounds of standard recyclables such as paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass, which represented a 21 percent increase over 2013. The University also composted 203,424 pounds of compostable plates and food, and 41,160 pounds of electronics, totaling more than 759,000 pounds of materials.

This year, OHIO has set a goal to recover 100,000 pounds of recyclables each week during the eight-week competition. “That is more than seven tons a day, which is quite a goal, yet one I know we can reach,” said Recycling and Zero Waste Manager Andrew Ladd. “RecycleMania is a huge event for OHIO and when our community of students, faculty and staff work together, there’s nothing we cannot accomplish.”

Recycling creates jobs, saves resources, energy, reduces pollution, and in most cases, costs less than the landfill. “At this point, recycling really is the new norm,” he said.

One important benchmark in OHIO'S Sustainability Plan, signed by President Roderick J. McDavis in 2011, is to achieve an 80 percent recycling rate by 2016. The continuing simplification of recycling systems, along with education and ever growing participation is helping to make that goal a reality.

Recent changes to the recycling systems mean that OHIO can now recycle #1 through #7 plastics, all the offices, labs and classrooms in the academic buildings don't require sorting, and high-use buildings such as Baker University Center and Alden Library have been converted to single-stream recycling.

Starting on Monday, Feb. 2, table displays will be set up at various locations across campus and Uptown Athens with information about RecycleMania and recycling in general. Working in conjunction with the Athens-Hocking Recycling Center, bales of recyclables and table displays will be located at the top of Morton Hill, in front of Baker University Center, and in front of the Athens County Courthouse next week.

Anyone interested in stopping at a table will have an opportunity to write an Earth-friendly pledge on a white board that will be shared on social media.

Other upcoming events include a visual waste audit to study the results of education about recycling on campus. At the start of RecycleMania, a crew will visit a Dumpster that has high traffic and sort all the recycling and trash to determine how much is being put in the wrong place, and repeat the task at the end of the eight-week event. The results will be compared to determine the effectiveness of recycling education.

A RecycleMania sculpture created from recycled materials will be constructed in Howard Park from Feb. 23 to 27.

The RecycleMania Gladiator Games will be held from March 16 to 21, with events like games of cardboard battle that feature cardboard swords and armor, chariot races, and more.

A RecycleMania Take-Back event is scheduled for March 28. Last year, the University experienced great success in hosting an E-waste Community Recycling Day, diverting more than 26,000 pounds of electronics in one afternoon, Ladd said.

"This year we are expanding the scope to include as many categories of recycling and gently used donations as possible,” he continued. “The idea is to get together recycling businesses and non-profit charities all in the same place at the same time.”

Columbus-based e-waste recycler Accurate IT, along with Information Destruction Services, a recycler located in The Plains that specializes in confidential material shredding, and the Athens-Hocking Recycling Center have already committed as co-sponsors of the event.

"When all is said and done, the community should be able to recycle or donate everything from bicycles and building supplies to old batteries and broken computers, all at one convenient time and location,” Ladd said.