The University of Virginia has again defended its in-state title in the RecycleMania competition, recycling 513,584 pounds of materials to capture its fifth “Gorilla Prize.”
U.Va. outdid Virginia Commonwealth University, which recycled 424,124 pounds of material, and Virginia Tech, which handled 348,380 pounds in the Gorilla Prize category, which recognizes schools that recycle the highest gross tonnage of combined paper, cardboard and bottle and cans regardless of campus population..
U.Va. finished third in the state in the grand champion category, with a 33.164 percent rate of recycling, in the eight-week competition ended on March 30. The category measures a school’s recycling rate as a percentage of its overall waste generation. The winner has the highest recycling rate, which means that it not only has reduced trash disposal through waste prevention, but also has a strong recycling program.
The RecycleMania competition, a project of the College and University Recycling Council, started in 2001 as a head-to-head contest between Ohio University and Miami University to encourage recycling on campus. Since then the competition has grown to include more than 600 colleges and universities vying for prizes to reduce their environmental impact. U.Va. began competing in RecycleMania in 2008.
The schools battle in major categories, including total amount recycled, as well as specific categories, such as paper and glass recycling, and the amount of recycling per person.
“We did extremely well this year,” said Nina Morris, sustainability outreach coordinator for Facilities Management. “The U.Va. community not only increased participation in the recycling program, but there was a concerted effort to encourage waste reduction.”
U.Va. finished fifth among Atlantic Coast Conference schools, behind Duke University, Boston College, the University of Maryland’s College Park campus and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The University was fourth in the state and third in the ACC for waste minimization, with 47.135 pounds of trash per capita. This is determined by combining the total weight of the recyclables and the total weight of the trash and dividing that by the campus population.
U.Va. finished fourth in Virginia for per-capita recycling with 15.632 pounds per person, and fifth in the state and eighth in the ACC for food service composting with 2.497 pounds per person.
Morris promoted the contest heavily this year, posting the weekly tallies on various social media, as well as offering promotional food coupons and free coffee with reusable mugs.
“We worked closely with U.Va. Dining and Student Council,” Morris said. “With their help, we were able to promote recycling and reuse programs that are available to students like the Reusable Office Supply Exchange program and U.Va. Dining’s Reusable To-Go Containers.
“U.Va. continues to lead the state in recycling efforts, and RecycleMania is a great way to motivate and educate the community on our extensive recycling program.”