The University of Virginia is launching the defense of its Gorilla Prize title in RecycleMania.
Last year, U.Va. came in first among Virginia schools and fourth among its Atlantic Coast Conference peers in total recycling, with 706,832 pounds of total recycling for RecycleMania’s Gorilla Prize.
This year, U.Va. is competing against more than 600 schools in the United States and Canada for bragging rights. The competition, which began Monday and lasts until March 30, provides national recognition to schools that achieve the highest recycling rates and reduce their waste production most significantly.
This year, prizes will be awarded to U.Va. students who recycle aluminum.
“Students who recycle aluminum drink cans on Grounds could win prizes,” said Nina Morris, sustainability outreach coordinator at Facilities Management. “Before the students recycle their cans, they write their computing ID on the can on permanent marker and each week a can will be selected at random and a student will receive a gift certificate from a local business.”
Students will have more opportunities to recycle, with containers added to University Transit Service buses.
“Our buses currently have a trash bag in the front of the bus,” said Jonathan Monceaux, interim assistant director for transportation services with the Department of Parking and Transportation. “We will add a second blue bag for recyclables. Our drivers will be educated to answer questions and recommend use of the blue bag, but they will not be forceful about it.”
RecycleMania will also be promoted with scorecards in the dining halls and the weekly totals will be available on various social media such as Facebook , Twitter and the U.Va. Sustainability’s RecycleMania webpage.
A new RecycleMania competition category is film plastics, which include plastic shopping bags, plastic wrap and bubble wrap. Film plastic recycling at U.Va. will be tracked over a four-week period between Feb. 17 and March 16.
“There is something about film plastic that people don’t usually think of it as recyclable,” said Jon Torre, the recycling team leader in U.Va.’s Student Sustainability Employee program.
“We will also be doing a waste audit on Valentine’s Day,” Morris said. “We will be examining the waste stream at Shea House to see how much of the material is recyclable and compostable.”
University Dining Services is also working with Black Bear Composting to recycle food waste from Runk Hall and other food venues on Grounds, and food waste from Observatory Hill and Newcomb dining halls is being composted in a student-run pilot project at Panorama Farm in Earlysville.
Morris said there will be other promotions during the contest.
RecycleMania is not sponsoring a video contest this year – an area in which University entries have been successful in the past – but Morris said some students have expressed an interest is making a video anyway.
“Doing the videos is fun,” Morris said. “And I know we are going to get a lot of student support for RecycleMania this year.”