Campus Race to Zero Waste 2021 Begins

The new semester marks the beginning of the annual Campus Race to Zero Waste competition (formerly known as RecycleMania). For the twelfth year in a row, the University will proudly join hundreds of colleges across the United States and Canada in this eight-week long competition.

Campus Race to Zero Waste is a friendly contest and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote sustainability and waste reduction. The name change from Recyclemania to Campus Race to Zero Waste embodies the true purpose of the competition and encourages campuses to go beyond recycling, looking at source reduction and reuse.

Each participating school tracks and self-reports data on recycling and compost activity to improve efforts to reduce or eliminate waste. There are four main categories of competition:

  • Diversion – recyclables, food organics, and trash
  • Zero Waste – recyclables, food organics, trash weights, and materials for reuse
  • Food Organics – food waste and any organic materials handled alongside food waste
  • Per Capita – recyclables

This year, schools will be divided by Carnegie’s size classification: small/very small, medium, large/very large. This levels the playing field and allows more campuses to be recognized. For the first time, there will be a total of three winners per each main category. Additionally, there are four optional special categories including Electronics Recycling, Race to Zero Waste Building Challenge, Case Study Competition, and GameDay Basketball Recycling. These categories are designed to further engage colleges with specific focus areas.

Despite the sudden campus closures across the country that took place during the competition last year, 4.5 million college students and staff were reached from 300 U.S. and Canadian campuses. A total of 48.6 million pounds of waste was recycled, donated, and composted. This prevented the release of 70.874 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E) into the atmosphere, equivalent to preventing annual emissions from 15,047 cars. The results from the 2021 competition are expected to be significant as well.

The University’s Campus Race to Zero Waste promotional campaign is led by Facilities Team Green who is working with co-sponsors Grassroots, GreenSpace, SEESS, SAVVY, 2024 Class Council, Gamma Phi Beta, and other student organizations. The group has put together a fun-filled line-up of events to educate and engage the University community both on and off campus. The group is hosting its in-person Kickoff event on the Wilson Commons porch on February 10 and will continue with virtual events throughout the following weeks. Giveaways will be available at the Kickoff, Documentary Showing, and Bingo Night. Those who participate in the Valentine’s Day Selfie Challenge and Facebook Frame events will be entered in a sweepstakes drawing for a solar power bank. A copy of this year’s Campus Race to Zero Waste events poster is posted (left) and you can download and/or print it here.

The competition serves as a great way for University students, faculty, and staff to embrace the motto of “Meliora” as they try to make the campus ever better. The UR Sustainable Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages will feature updates, photos, promotions, and more throughout the competition, so be sure to follow us to stay in the loop.


Written by Emily Su, Class of 2022










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