May 12, 2012

American University Named 2012 RecycleMania Grand Champion

American University
The results are official! The 2012 college recycling champs have been announced by RecycleMania, and American University was named “Grand Champion,” as determined by the percentage of overall waste recycled during the RecycleMania Tournament, which recently wrapped up its 12th annual competition.

American’s Office of Sustainability’s “Bin It to Win It” awareness campaign played a huge role in AU’s win, by involving the entire campus community in zero waste activities.  An in addition to finishing on top in the Grand Champion Division, AU ranked first in the District of Columbia in the “Per Capita Classic, a category measuring the largest combined amount of paper, cardboard, bottles, and cans collected on a per-person basis.

"We worked very hard to be innovative in methods of raising awareness. From 'plastic cup recycling' on the quad to a recycled sculpture competition that had some amazing entries, we made recycling a relevant and interesting issue for a large portion of the campus community,” according to Josh Kaplan, of the Office of Sustainability.  “Faculty and staff also were involved when we held our first e-waste drive. We collected so many bins of electronic waste that previously people had no other way to dispose of easily, that we're making the e-waste drive a quarterly event."

Other local colleges also did their part, and competition was intense.  The College of William and Mary beat out the University of Virginia for bragging rights in the Grand Champion Division.  In Maryland, Harford Community College placed first, with Frostburg and the University of Maryland-College Park taking second and third place respectively.

In the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) division, Virginia came in second after Boston College but soundly beat Maryland, Duke, and North Carolina.  Georgetown ruled the Big East, while Johns Hopkins and James Madison took second in the Centennial and Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) conferences.

RecycleMania was launched in 2001, as a friendly challenge between Ohio University and Miami University to increase recycling on their campuses. The contest has expanded rapidly from the two original schools to 605 colleges and universities in 2012.

As part of the competition, campuses compete to see which institution can collect the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate.

This year, 92 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials were recovered, which according to RecycleManiacs prevented the release of nearly 150,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. This reduction in greenhouse gases is equivalent to annual emissions from more than 25,840 passenger cars.

And this is important because college-bound high school students are increasingly making sustainability a priority in their school selections. Among 7,445 college applicants who participated in Princeton Review's 2012 ‘College Hopes & Worries Survey,’ nearly 7 out of 10 (68 percent) said having information about a college's commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend a particular school.

Many local colleges and universities scored well in individual categories.  In the Bottles and Cans category, the University of the District of Columbia (came in 35th overall), Johns Hopkins (28), and the University of Virginia (23) scored at the top for their states.  In the Waste Minimization category, UDC (30), Morgan State University (5), and Virginia Commonwealth University (82) beat out the state competition.

More information and a complete list of winners (broken down by state and athletic conference), may be found on the RecycleMania website.

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