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Published on February 4th, 2009 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

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Recyclemania: The Biggest College Competition You’ve Never Heard of


recyclemania sign at rice universityHow many colleges and universities belong to the NCAA’s Division I? 342

How many colleges and universities are participating in the 2009 Recyclemania? 510

College sports fans will likely say “That’s not an accurate comparison, Jeff.” They’re probably right… but, the question remains: Have you ever heard of Recyclemania?

[social_buttons]I hadn’t until checking my feed reader today.  Apparently, I’m not alone: I checked most of the other big green blogs, and found nary a mention in any posts. There was one passing mention of it on Ecolocalizer, but it was far from the focus of the post.

Now, I don’t bring up this lack of coverage (at least within the green web) to criticize anyone, but rather to express my amazement — this thing’s huge! Founded in 2001 “as a friendly challenge between recycling coordinators at two schools in Ohio, Miami University and Ohio University,” Recyclemania now coordinates participating colleges and universities from all 50 US states, the District of Columbia, and, for the first time, schools from outside the United States.

So, what do all of these schools do?  Well, as you might imagine, they recycle. OK, it’s a bit more complicated than that: according to the event’s press release:

Over a 10-week period from January 18 to March 28, 2009, participating schools will compete in various categories measuring the success of their recycling and waste prevention efforts… Though many schools have had recycling and waste prevention programs for years, studies have found that large volumes of recyclables still end up in the trash. RecycleMania motivates campus communities to recycle more often. By framing recycling in competitive terms, RecycleMania taps the same intercollegiate spirit that drives sports rivalries.

The “various categories” include waste minimization, targeted materials such as paper, bottles, cans, and food service organics, the “gorilla prize” (for large schools competing in terms of gross tonnage), and the “the Stephen K. Gaski Per Capita Classic.” For schools that stress cooperation over competition, there’s a “benchmark” division with the same categories, but no competitive rankings.

Recyclemania is adminstered by the National Recycling Coalition, and sponsored by the EPA’s WasteWise program, and Coca-Cola (yep, there’s Coca-Cola again). If you’d like to find out if your school is competing, and even how they’re doing, check out the standings page.

Any of you involved in this year’s Recyclemania? Participated in the past? Share your stories… clearly, we haven’t heard them!

Image: Recyclemania sign at Rice University, 2006

Image source: Recyclemania



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About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at



3 Responses to Recyclemania: The Biggest College Competition You’ve Never Heard of

  1. Ian says:

    I don’t know if I’m more excited by this post, or by a picture of a banner hanging off of Fodren Library in my RSS feed! Makes this CSPA ED proud to be an Owl!

  2. Jess says:

    Wow. I didn’t realize that this had gotten so big. I went to OU during the first few years of this. Way to go Bobcats!!

  3. Pingback: SUNfiltered : Fresh culture daily. » Blog Archive » Recyclemania 2010: Over 600 campuses competing to reduce waste

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