Feb. 4, 2011-The University of Utah’s office of sustainability, along with housing and residential education, is encouraging students to sort through their trash to find things that they had not realized could be recycled. Between 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday Feb. 8, students living on campus will be asked to head to their rooms and determine how much of their weekly waste can be recycled with systems in already in place. Organizers also hope this “trash day” will help them identify new programs needed to help improve campus recycling.
The three-hour event is part of RecycleMania, a competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Over a 10-week period beginning next week, schools report recycling and trash data and are ranked according to who collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita and those that have the highest recycling rate. With each week’s reports and rankings, participating schools can watch how their results fluctuate against other schools and use this to encourage behavioral changes that will promote recycling and reduction of waste.
“Universities are small cities that consume large amounts of resources and generate tons of solid waste,” says Ashley Patterson, sustainability outreach and education coordinator. “By engaging in the competition format of Recyclemania with other colleges and universities, we hope to engage more of the campus population in reduction and recycling efforts.”
The University of Utah is currently working to become a carbon neutral campus through energy efficiency, waste reduction, energy conservation, and offset strategies. In the 2010 Recyclemania competition, the university placed 77 out of 267 institutions for the Grand Competition with a cumulative recycling rate of 31.89 percent.