International college recycling competition to kick off in February

By Kelly Doran, CG News

Eleven out of the 13 schools in the Mid-American Conference will soon be swept up in Recyclemania, an eight-week competition among U.S. colleges and universities to see what schools are best at recycling their waste.

What began as a competition between Ohio University and Miami University in 2001 has ballooned into a national event. More than 600 schools took part in the competition last year.

The competition begins Feb. 6 and ends April 2.

OU Recycling and Refuse Manager Ed Newman created Recyclemania. He said he expects the number of schools participating this year to be about the same as last year.

As of Thursday, 532 schools had registered, according to, the competition’s official website. The registration deadline is Friday.

This year is big for OU because all five of the university’s branch campuses are taking part. The focus of Recyclemania in 2011 for OU will be beating the other MAC schools.

Newman compared OU’s recycling prowess to the athletic skills of Auburn University and Ohio State University.

“They can beat us in sports, but they can’t touch us in recycling,” Newman said.

Recyclemania consists of eight categories including Grand Champion, Per Capita Classic, Waste Minimization, Gorilla Prize, Paper, Corrugated Cardboard, Bottles and Cans, and Food Service Organics.

The Per Capita category rates which schools collect the largest combined amount of cardboard, paper, bottles and cans per person.  The Gorilla Prize category rates which schools recycle the largest combined amount of recyclables regardless of campus population.

The Food Service Organics category is only two years old.  Newman said OU will do well in that category because of how much compost OU creates.  The original composter OU had could only accommodate two tons of compost per day, a maximum OU easily reached.  The university’s new composter has a higher capacity.

One of the main reasons OU typically does not do well in the Grand Champion category is because of the Grab N’ Go options at campus dining halls, Newman said.  Despite their convenience for students, Grab N’ Go eateries, which give students meals to go, create large amounts of trash.

Last year, OU did the best in the Gorilla Prize category and placed 33rd out of 346 schools.  In Food Service Organics, OU was 64th out of 127.  OU placed 101st in the Grand Champion category out of 267.  OU has not placed in the top five in any category since 2005, when it placed fifth in the Per Capita category.

As the number of participating schools has grown larger, international schools have joined. Schools from across the globe are taking part, including five in Canada, one in Qatar and one in the United Kingdom.

Newman said the College and University Recycling Coalition, which oversees the competition, is in the process of developing Recyclemania for grade schools in Ohio.  The first competition for grade schools was last year.  The registration period was a week and a half long and 66 schools signed up.

Newman hopes to expand Recyclemania to communities, businesses and Greek organizations on campuses.  He said he is “flabbergasted” that the event keeps growing year after year.

Newman also said he wants the whole campus to feel involved when the competition begins.

“Everyone on campus is on our team,” he said. “This is not a spectator sport.”


  1. Recyclemania sounds really cool – but I’m not sure if I should be offended – apparently, OSU can’t touch OU in recycling? 🙂

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