No Gorilla Prize for the University of Virginia This Year

April 24, 2008 — The University came in sixth in the annual RecycleMania competition for the "Gorilla Prize," a measure of total weight of recycled material on Grounds. U.Va. recycled 440.8 tons of material, while first-place Stanford University recycled 615.5 tons. Last year, the University placed ninth in the battle for the Gorilla prize, recycling 397.8 tons.

RecycleMania is an annual competition among colleges and Universities to encourage recycling and generate student awareness of recycling and waste minimization. About 400 schools participated this year, up from 201 last year, which was U.Va.'s first year in the competition.

"We did better than we did last year," said Lindsey L. Daniels, a student worker at the University's Division of Recoverable and Disposable Resources and coordinator of U.Va.'s efforts in RecycleMania. The University's improvement against a much larger field "shows we have a good program."

Bruce "Sonny" Beale, U.Va.'s director of recycling, credited Daniels and the University's Conservation Advocates, a student environmental group, with generating interest on Grounds.

The University did not place as highly in several of the individual categories, though Daniels noted that these are judged on a per capita basis, which puts U.Va. at a disadvantage against smaller schools. U.Va. has 13,726 undergraduates.

"They count faculty, staff, students and graduate students, and many of these people bring their recycling somewhere other than the University," she said.

U.Va. came in 42nd in the grand championship, which measures the cumulative recycling rate, with 25.4 percent recycling. No. 1 Kalamazoo College, with an enrollment of 1,340 students, hit 58.9 percent.

The University finished 32nd in the per capita cumulative recycling category, which measures the pounds of material recycled per person. U.Va. recycled 28.5 pounds per person, while Kalamazoo College, again in first place, recycled 75.2 pounds per person.

U.Va. placed 74th in the waste minimization category, which measures the pounds of cumulative waste per person. U.Va. generated 112.1 pounds per person, while first-place finisher North Lake College generated only 12.5 pounds per person.

In paper recycling, U.Va. came in 22nd with 14.6 pounds per person, compared with first-place finisher Stephens College's 31.8 pounds per person.

With corrugated cardboard recycling, U.Va. took 22nd with 10.2 pounds per person, while the first-place United States Coast Guard Academy recycled 35.4 pounds per person.

U.Va. placed 36th in bottle and can recycling, salvaging 3.6 pounds per person, while category winner Rhode Island School of Design recycled 22.2 pounds per person.

Daniels said RecycleMania provides the University an opportunity to see what other schools are doing to promote recycling. Beale, who is examining techniques from some of the other schools, said he would like to follow Emory University's plan of having recycling and trash containers next to each other all over Grounds.

Beale said U.Va. did well in only its second year in the contest, but said the University is still only recycling about 40 percent of what it could.

"Being toddlers in this competition, I'm impressed with what we did," he said. "But I think we can do better and that will give us something to strive for."

While the contest is over, Daniels is optimistic the recycling numbers will stay up.

"Once you get the students' attention, they understand there are lots of good reasons to recycle," she said.