University of Michigan
News for Faculty and Staff

May 24, 2017

U-M community recycles 1.3 million pounds during competition

April 19, 2017

U-M community recycles 1.3 million pounds during competition

The University of Michigan campus community collected more than 1.3 million pounds of recyclables during the annual eight-week RecycleMania competition.

Building occupants on the Ann Arbor campus competed for titles in the RecycleMania: Battle of the Buildings competition in the areas of highest recycling rate, most-improved recycling rate and largest-waste reduction rate.

The top three 2017 winners in the recycling rate category are: University Hospital Education Center, 77.6 percent; U-M Transportation Research Institute/Mobility Transformation Center, 71 percent; and Lorch Hall, 69.1 percent.

The University Hospital Education Center also won in the most improved recycling rate category, up 120 percent from last year. The C.C. Little Science Building and Weiser Hall won the waste reduction category, reducing total building waste by 49.6 percent since last year.

"This year during RecycleMania, we happened to be in the process of relocating some offices, which prompted all the staff to do their own spring cleaning," says Sophia Scoma, financial administrative assistant at the University Hospital Education Center. "This was able to contribute to a large increase in recycling and shredding of documents.

"I am always encouraging people to recycle or reuse items over throwing them away in the garbage. I think it's working because this is our second year in the top three for waste reduction."

This was U-M's 11th annual Battle of the Buildings competition which ran Feb. 5-April 1.

Alongside Battle of the Buildings, the university competed in the national RecycleMania competition in which colleges and universities compare their waste-reduction levels and pounds of recycling. 

U-M finished with a 45.4 percent recycling rate, placing third in the Big Ten and ranking 58th among 250 competing schools. This was the university's 12th year participating in RecycleMania.

"These competitions raise awareness of U-M's recycling efforts and, ideally, what resources are available to the campus community," says Alison Richardson, recycling coordinator with Waste Reduction and Recycling in the Office of Campus Sustainability. "We hope that people become more conscious and adopt more waste-reducing behaviors during the competition and beyond."

During the competitions, OCS monitored recycling and trash levels on a weekly basis.

At the conclusion of the program, the university's efforts generated the following results:

• Per Capita Classic (the largest weight of recyclables per person): 57th out of 245 schools, 17 pounds of recyclables per capita.

• Total Recycling (the largest collection of recyclables): third out of 214 schools, 1,363,940 total pounds recycled.

• Diversion Champion (the highest recycling rate during the competition): 58th out of 190 schools, 45.4 percent recycling rate.

• Waste Minimization (the least amount of waste per capita): 78th out of 135 schools, 46.5 pounds per capita.

The efforts of RecycleMania's participants reduced greenhouse gases by 65,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to gas emissions from more than 156 million miles driven by an average passenger vehicle, according to calculations provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Participation in both competitions directly supports the university's broader commitment to sustainability, known as Planet Blue and its goals in the areas of waste prevention and community awareness.

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