University takes part in recycling competition

By Matt Daray

It’s time to take out the trash at SIUC.

The university is in its fifth week of RecycleMania, a national competition for college recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities on campuses from Feb. 5 to March 30.

For eight weeks, more than 300 colleges in every state across the country and five provinces in Canada will report the amount of recycling and trash collected each week and be ranked in categories


based on how much is recycled per capita.

Each school is ranked on the best total recycling rate and which school generates the least amount of trash. Each week, the ranks are updated to allow participating schools to track their performance against other colleges.

National recognition is given to the winning school of each category, such as recycling weight and waste minimization, on the RecycleMania website and in a national press release. Winning schools also receive an award made of recycled materials.

As of week five, SIUC ranks 216 out of 258 schools in its division for weekly recycling rate, according to RecycleMania’s website.

The university participated from 2007 through 2009. Because the position of recycling coordinator was vacant, SIUC went on a two-year hiatus from competing. Now SIUC is back in the game with a new coordinator.

SIUC’s Recycling Coordinator Megan Pulliam said she takes the competition seriously.

Pulliam, a graduate student in public administration from Peoria, said the goal of the event is to motivate students and faculty to recycle more and reduce waste while also raising awareness.

Alec Cooley, program manager for RecycleMania since 2007, said the program is designed to make recycling meaningful to college students by making it a competition appealing to a majority of students.

He said the program also raises awareness through a video competition on RecycleMania’s Facebook page, where visitors can vote on their favorite student-made video.

Padraig Ehlert, a senior from Geneva studying sports administration, said he was not aware of the event but is now going to recycle more than he usually does. He said he thinks the event is a good idea, and everyone should try to do their part.

Other students showed less interest in the event.

Matt Hicks, a junior from Island Lake studying social work, said he was also unaware of the event but does not plan to do anything differently than normal. He said he does think it is a good idea and people should get involved with it, though he isn’t.

The program started as a challenge between Miami University of Ohio and Ohio State University in 2001. Now it is an independent program from RecycleMania, Inc., with a steering committee comprised of recycling managers from participating universities. The national nonprofit group Keep America Beautiful manages the event.

The contest uses several different measurement criteria, including the amount of trash removed from campus, food being vermicomposted and the amount of items recycled.

Participants can help by recycling paper, aluminum cans, cardboard, toner cartridges and plastic.