Recyclemania! returns to GVSU for sixth year

Ellie Phillips

Recyclemania! returns to Grand Valley State University this year, uniting Facilities Services, Pew Campus Operations, Campus Dining, Sustainability Initiative, Residence Life, News and Information Services, Student Environmental Coalition and Republic Waste Co.

The group is aiming to exceed last year’s 36 percent overall rate of recycling between Jan. 22 and Apr. 2.

“Our rate of recycling versus waste to landfill has increased for each year of our competition,” said Stephen Leeser, operations manager of facilities services at GVSU. “We have increased our compost pickups at food service areas to six days per week to keep up with the higher usage.”

To facilitate this effort, the Recyclemania! team this year plans to increase awareness through advertising, updates on the GVSU website, banners, posters, tabletop ads, articles in the Forum, residence hall meetings and TV monitors, informational tables in Kirkhof and Devos Centers, and even a plug on the electronic sign that graces the north campus entrance off of Lake Michigan Drive.

Recyclemania!, which GVSU has participated in for the past five years, is a friendly competition between college and university recycling programs in the United States. It creates a fun, proactive way of increasing awareness about waste minimization, and takes place over a 10-week period. The participating campuses strive to collect the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables or the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate.

The first Recyclemania! competition took place in February of 2001. Ed Newman of Ohio University and Stacy Edmonds Wheeler of Miami University began working to increase recycling in the residence and dining halls on their respective campuses. The competition has grown from a challenge between those two schools to boasting hundreds of participants across the nation.

There are four primary competitions and four select material competitions, of which the recycling programs from the different colleges and universities can compete in any combination – from just one to all of them.

Schools that participate in both the Per Capita Classic and the Waste Minimization competitions automatically become eligible to earn the honor of being named the Grand Champion of RecycleMania!. The grand champion school is the one that attains the greatest achievement in both the areas of source reduction and recycling.

Additionally, the schools that participate in either of these competitions are automatically eligible to win the Gorilla Prize. This prize is awarded to the school that recycles the highest gross amount overall.

Last year, GVSU’s rankings were 40 percent in week one, 32 percent in week two, 42 percent in week three, 37 percent in week four, 33 percent in week five, 34 percent in week six, 39 percent in week seven, and 34 percent in week eight, which culminated in the average rate of 36 percent.

These numbers are up from 19 percent, 12 percent, 16 percent, 16 percent, 20 percent, 11 percent, 26 percent, and 15 percent, respectively, in 2008, GVSU’s first year of participation. In 2008, the average total rate was 17 percent, and the growth is expected to continue with this year’s competition.

As the Jan. 22 start date approaches, more information will be available online as to how those interested can get involved in this campus-wide endeavor.

To learn more about the program, visit either or
[email protected]