Annual waste reduction competitions returning to campus


The University of Michigan community is being challenged to think outside the trash bin to reduce the amount of waste generated on Ann Arbor’s campus during the annual RecycleMania Battle of the Buildings Competition.

Organized by the Office of Campus Sustainability, the eight-week competition runs Feb. 3-March 30 and will track recycling, composting and landfill levels on a weekly basis for participating buildings.

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Building occupants compete against their 2018 recycling and composting totals to earn awards in three categories: greatest amount diverted from the landfill through recycling and composting (diversion rate), most improved diversion rate, and largest waste reduction.

“RecycleMania is a great opportunity to engage the campus community and encourage recycling and waste-reducing behaviors that we hope will continue beyond the competition,” says Alison Richardson, recycling coordinator with OCS.

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In conjunction with the campus building competition, the university also will compete with hundreds of other colleges and universities by comparing waste reduction levels in the national RecycleMania competition.

The national competition categories that U-M will participate in this year are: greatest amount diverted from the landfill (Diversion Champion), the most pounds of recyclables per capita (Per Capita Classic) and greatest amount of food organics composted or donated (Food Organics).

In addition to the competitions, OCS promotes several waste reduction programs, such as Sustainable Workplace, Sustainable Lab, Kitchen Composting and Zero Waste Events.

“Together these programs are key to our long-term success in the university’s waste reduction efforts,” says Richardson.

The efforts support the university’s sustainability goal to reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill by 40 percent below the 2006 baseline by 2025.

Last year, the university collected more than 1.2 million pounds of recyclables during the competitions, which is equivalent to flooding the Michigan Stadium football field 10 feet deep with recyclables.

In the 2018 nationwide competition, the university finished with a 42.72 percent recycling rate, placing fifth in the total recycled category among the 230 schools.

This marks the 13th year the university has hosted the buildings competition and the 14th year the university has participated in the national competition.


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