Internal and national waste-reduction contests return


RecycleMania returns this year, challenging the U-M community — students, staff, and faculty alike — to be more conscientious about what it throws away.

Consisting of a campus challenge — Battle of the Buildings — between participating facilities on campus, and a national competition with hundreds of other colleges and universities, the eight-week competition runs Feb. 2 through March 28.

This year marks the 14th year U-M has convened a campuswide buildings competition and the 15th year it has participated in the nationwide challenge.

“RecycleMania gives the U-M community the chance to come together toward a common aim of reducing campus waste,” said Alison Richardson, recycling coordinator with the Office of Campus Sustainability.

“We look forward to the friendly competition as well. The recent expansion of compost service in campus buildings paired with the enthusiasm of our campus community is sure to bring a new energy to this year’s contest.”

In the 2019 nationwide competition, the university finished with a 38.03 percent diversion rate, placing 10th in the Total Recycled category among the 251 schools participating.

U-M collected more than 807,000 pounds of recyclables and 372,000 pounds of compost during the 2019 contest — reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of removing 280 cars from the road for a year.

This year, U-M will compete against other schools across four categories:

  • Diversion: Measuring the percentage of recyclables and food organics diverted from the landfill.
  • Zero waste: Tracking multiple campus buildings that are diverse in their use, completing at least one building audit during the eight-week competition period and taking steps to minimize building waste.
  • Per capita: Measuring the total weight of recyclables divided by campus population.
  • Food organics: Tracking how schools reduce food waste through minimization activities, donation and biofuels.

In the Battle of the Buildings, each facility competes against its 2019 composting and recycling performance across three categories: greatest waste reduction rate, greatest waste diversion from landfills through recycling and composting, and most improved diversion rate.

Last year’s winners included:

  • The Munger Graduate Residences, which boasted a waste reduction rate of 36.65 percent.
  • The Bentley Historical Library, which achieved a diversion rate of 83.97 percent.
  • The North Campus Research Complex, which earned a 128.57 percent improvement of its diversion rate from 2018.

Since last year’s competition, OCS has continued to increase the availability of composting service on campus.

About 45 more buildings offer compost service during RecycleMania this year than in 2019. In addition, all campus residence halls now provide students with composting opportunities. OCS continues to work toward a U-M goal of reducing campus waste by 40 percent by 2025.

Facilities interested in participating in Battle of the Buildings can sign up through Feb. 7. Participants also will receive a weekly email from OCS with tips and standings.


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