Recyclemania is a good-natured competition pining college and university recycling programs against each other to promote activities to reduce the waste produced on their campuses. It began in January of 2001 as a challenge between Ohio University and Miami University. Miami came out on top that year and the success of the competition led them to invite other universities to participate the following year. In 2004, the program partnered with the US EPA WasteWise program, and by 2008 four hundred schools were involved! Now, for eight weeks each spring schools from the United States and Canada report to Recyclemania the amount of waste they produce, and the amount of material they have been able to recycle. This information is ranked into categories based on diversion, waste minimization and per capita recycling of paper, corrugated cardboard, bottles and cans and organic material.
The Diversion category is an all-encompassing score based on the prevention of all the above materials from ending up in landfills. The officials at Recyclemania calculate the results by adding the weight of recyclables and food organics, and dividing that by the sum of the weight of recyclables, food and trash and then multiplying this by one hundred. This year, Loyola Marymount University (LMU) was ranked number one with a recycling rate of 83.897%! LMU has impressive stats across the board, ranking #2 in the Per Capita Classic, and #1 in the categories of paper, bottle and can, and corrugated cardboard recycling. This Californian private university has ranked high in most categories for years, and their Green LMU program is a beautiful example of what our own sustainability movement could become.
Rhode Island School of Design took the title in the Per Capita Classic, with a final score of 76.09 lbs per capita. As mentioned above, LMU took a close second with 72.71 lbs per capita. In the category of total recycling, Rutgers University dominated with a total of 2,333,670 lbs, second place Stanford University totaled only 1,610,644 lbs (still impressive). North Lake College, a community college in Irving, Texas claimed first place in Waste Minimization, with an impressive 4.135 lbs per capita, UB scored #51 with 34.552.
Although UB’s ranking does not stand out in the overall competition (#98 Diversion, #151 Per Capita), our school should still take pride in the fact that we participate in a program in which the efforts of the competitors serves to promote the preservation of the earth and sustainable practices in general. UB Office of Sustainability released a Climate Action Plan in 2009, and in the years since we have made great strides towards climate neutrality and in changing the culture of the Western New York community to be one mindful of our impact on the world. While there is still much progress to be made, we should note that in terms of New York State ranking UB did well, taking #1 in waste minimization, #7 in total recycling and #9 in organics, a category where we scored better than our 2016 scores each week! In a competition where positions differ by fractions of a percent that’s not half bad, and having our name listed amongst other universities who are developing sustainability programs opens up the doors for intercollegiate cooperation, and we should learn from those above us in the ranking.
For more a comprehensive analysis of the results of the entire competition, visit the links below. At the Recyclemania website you can see how every school ranked, and create your own custom ranking to compare UB to other schools based on peer group, athletic conference, state, and school size. Let us take pride in our participation and set goals to do even better next year!
Student Sustainability Coordinator UB-CDS
Cultural Anthropology B.A. (In-Progress)
Vice President, UB Campus Garden Club