Keep America Beautiful’s RecycleMania begins with 'race to zero waste'

- Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fibrex GroupThe 17th annual RecycleMania, managed by Keep America Beautiful, has begun on college campuses across the country. The competition started on Feb. 5 and will run through April 1. Some of the main competitors include Rutgers University, Texas Tech University, San Diego State University and Indiana University. Students and staff will report their diversion and reduction efforts weekly and the results will be displayed on an online scoreboard.

This year, a new four-week pilot competition called "Race to Zero Waste" was introduced in select schools, with a focus on those that already have high diversion rates. Each school will be judged on how much waste they produce and their building diversion rates.

More than 1,000 colleges and universities have participated in RecycleMania since it began in 2001 and helped divert an estimated 730 million pounds of material during those competitions. Last year, Richmond College in Dallas had the best diversion rate and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angles had the best per capita rate. The winner of each category receives national recognition and hosts the trophy for a year.

Campuses have been at the center of many successful diversion efforts lately, including public space recycling and food waste diversion. More than 120 schools have joined the EPA's Food Recovery Challenge with initiatives such as recovered food feasts or the installation of on-site organics processing technologies.

While a recent Keep America Beautiful survey showed that millennials are more likely to buy recycled products, they were also more likely to be skeptical of the recycling process. New educational programs have been introduced to help give students an understanding of the material management process at a young age and change these perceptions for future generations. Current college students or recent graduates are seen as more engaged in environmental issues and will be closely watched as they become both future customers and future industry professionals.

**Original posted 2/10/17 by Cole Rosengren