University Scoring Big in Recycling Competitions

The GameDay Recycling Challenge is a nationwide competition among universities to reduce and recycle the waste generated at home football games. This season, the University of Rochester placed fourth in the country, with a waste diversion rate of 91.2%! During the event held during the Meliora Weekend home football game, a total of 623 pounds of waste was diverted — 100 pounds of compostable materials and 523 pounds of recyclables including plastic, metal, glass, paper, cardboard. All the while, just 60 pounds of trash was collected. For the second year in a row, the University has accomplished a true “zero waste” event, by diverting over 90% of its waste from going into landfills and incinerators.

The success of this event took collaboration from various departments and organizations. Sustainability Coordinator Amy Kadrie worked with Dining and Auxiliary Services to ensure that items served at the concessions stand would be served on compostable paper products. Volunteers from Waste Management, University Facilities and Services, and the EcoReps student group acted as “Recycling Rangers” to guide people on how to use the zero-waste stations set up throughout the concourse and in the tent which housed the All-Varsity Alumni Tailgate event. The men’s baseball team also took part in helping clean up the stands and sort waste after the game. Athletics and Recreation support the challenge each year and include announcements throughout the game to inform spectators of the challenge. Photos of this year’s event are available here.

Congratulations to Ohio University and Eastern Washington University who tied for highest diversion rate at 95.6%. Over the course of 243 games held nationwide, 78 schools recycled, composted or donated 2,667,845 pounds of materials. This is a 4.8% increase over the total pounds recycled during the 2015 season!  “Leveraging the school spirit that comes out during these classic football rivalries presents a unique opportunity to build awareness and connection to waste reduction and recycling among college football fans of all ages,” said Brenda Pulley, Senior Vice President, Recycling, Keep America Beautiful.

Now, for the eighth year in a row, the University of Rochester will participate in RecycleMania! RecycleMania is a friendly competition between universities to promote recycling and waste reduction among their campus communities. The competition serves as a great way to motivate students, faculty, and staff and highlight the existing systems on campus that encourage sustainable practices. Each year, hundreds of universities from across the nation engage in this eight-week long competition to find out which institution can recycle the most material.

The overall goals for RecycleMania are to:

  1. Motivate students and staff to increase recycling efforts and reduce waste generation.
  2. Generate attention and support for campus recycling programs.
  3. Encourage colleges to measure and benchmark recycling activity in their effort to improve their programs over time.
  4. Have a fair and friendly competition.

During the competition period, participating universities report the amount of recycling and trash collected each week, and are ranked in various categories based on which universities recycle the most per capita. The rankings take into account which universities have the best recycling rate as a percentage of total waste and which generate the least amount of combined trash and recycling. As the rankings are updated each week, participating universities can track their performance and use their results to encourage their campus community to reduce and recycle more.

The process begins with a two-week practice period, which allows participants to begin tracking their data and plan for their events. Then on February 5, RecycleMania moves into its competitive phase for the following eight weeks where the data reported counts towards scoring. This year to promote RecycleMania at the University of Rochester, there will be four events. The Kick-off event will be on February 9th and February 10th from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. in Hirst Lounge. On February 28th, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. there will be an EcoRep Symposium in Goergen 101. The third event will be a tour of the University’s Power Supply Plant. The fourth and final event with be a cleanup of the Genesee Riverside pathway on March 25th at 10:00 a.m., starting at the Psi Upsilon building on the River Campus. Click here to see the poster of all events.

National recognition is provided to the winning school in each category on the RecycleMania website and in a national press release. Winning schools receive an award made out of recyclable materials, and win the right to host that category’s special traveling trophy for the coming year. Universities are recognized in five different categories:

  • Grand Champion – awarded to the school with the best recycling rate as a percentage of its overall waste generation
  • Per Capita Classic – awarded to the school with the largest combined amount of recycled paper, cardboard, bottles, and cans per person
  • Waste Minimization – awarded to the school that produces the least amount of solid waste per person
  • Gorilla Prize – awarded to the school that recycles the highest gross tonnage of combined paper, cardboard, bottles, and cans independent of population
  • Targeted Materials – awarded to the school that recycles the highest gross tonnage in the categories of Paper, Corrugated Cardboard, Bottles, Cans, Food Service Organics, and Electronics

Last year, the University of Rochester ranked fourth in New York State for the Gorilla Prize, collecting over 435,000 pounds of recyclable material. Nationally, the University placed within the top 30 for Paper, the top twenty for Corrugated Cardboard, and the top ten for Bottles and Cans. The full results of last year’s competition can be found on the RecycleMania official website. While the bar was set high last year, the University of Rochester community is determined to raise it even higher this year. Many student groups including Chi Omega, Delta Upsilon, Grassroots, EcoReps, the Undergraduate Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Undergraduate Society of Chemical Engineers, College Republicans, Psi Upsilon, and Facilities Team Green have come together to cosponsor RecycleMania. To cosponsor, organizations raise awareness for the competition by tabling and participating in one of the four events.

With RecycleMania 2017, the University hopes to continue the momentum derived from last fall’s GameDay Recycling Challenge.

To find out more about the efforts of RecycleMania or the GameDay Challenge, visit the UR Sustainable Facebook Page for updates, photos, promotions, and a complete schedule of this year’s RecycleMania events. Be sure to “like” the page to stay in the loop.


Written by Alyssa Lemire, Class of 2017