The four R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle and rebuy – should be on everyone’s minds the next few months as the 11th annual RecycleMania tournament kicks off again on campus.
According to the RecycleMania website, the friendly competition serves as a benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to advertise trash reducing opportunities available on campus.
Last year, UC Davis finished 16th among college campuses in California and 243rd in the nation. The Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability unit (ESS) has been working diligently to ensure progress for this year’s competition.
“This year the Waste Reduction and Recycling (WRR) staff will be concentrating more on educating the students and faculty about the goals of the program through tabling, posters and surveys,” said Michelle Tuyen, staff assistant in the ESS. “We are also working closely with Student Housing to help promote the program to campus residents.”
Throughout the 10-week period, beginning Feb. 6, schools are to report weekly recycling and trash data. The rankings are based on which campus collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita and has the highest recycling rate.
Participating schools are able to watch how their weekly results stack up against other schools. The ranking system is meant to spur good-natured competition among campuses and inspire students to rally together to improve recycling and reduction methods.
“The WRR staff will lead the campus in this competition to focus and enhance the university’s recycling and composting efforts through collection of all recycled material, including paper, cardboard, bottles and cans and food waste,” according to the RecycleMania press release. “Another main goal of WRR is to promote waste reduction by recycling more and consuming less. WRR has implemented reduction programs in many campus departments, buildings and food eateries.”
Thus far 619 schools have registered for the 2011 RecycleMania competition, including 36 California schools and seven UCs. The competition is a great outreach program that inspires students and staff to create a more sustainable campus, Tuyen said.
UC’s current waste reduction goal is to divert 75 percent of waste away from landfills by 2012, eventually achieving zero waste by 2020. As of 2010, UC Davis recycles or composts 76 percent of campus waste.
This progress is made possible by creating student awareness of campus divisions such as the ESS unit that focus efforts on creating a sustainable campus for the future, Tuyen said.
“At UC Davis, waste is considered a resource, and the complete life cycle of products – including whether they can be returned to the manufacturer, composted or recycled – is considered before their purchase,” according to the UC Davis sustainable second century website.
The competition will come to a close on April 2 and those involved with WRR and ESS are confident that the university will be able to improve the rankings from last year.
KATIE LEVERONI can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.