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UW Joins National Recycling Competition

February 9, 2009
Man holding a box
Recylemania -- Materials Handler Scott Carstens loads discarded paper for recycling. During the first week of the contest, UW collected about one-half pound of recyclable materials per person. (UW Photo)

The University of Wyoming once again is competing in RecycleMania, a national competition among more than 500 colleges and universities, says Tod Scott, waste stream manager at UW.

UW got involved with RecycleMania last year when Deb Paulson, associate professor in the Department of Geography, sought a project  in which to involve students enrolled in her sustainability class.

"We didn't know how UW would perform," says Scott. "Wyoming doesn't have a recycling culture like many states on the coasts do, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well we did."

The recycling rate for UW during the first week of this year's contest was 35.72 percent, with just over one-half pound of recyclable materials collected per person. The total waste collected, including trash, was 4.24 pounds per person during the first week. Scott says UW collects about 1.7 million pounds of trash per year.

Each school competes as an entire campus, with recyclable materials from all of UW's students, faculty and staff counting toward its grand total. According to Scott, there are more than 1,000 different recycling locations in more than 85 buildings around campus.

The first two weeks are considered "trials"; that is, UW practiced collecting and reporting materials before the actual 10-week competition began Feb. 1. After the competition began, each school's progress is posted on the RecycleMania Web site ( Schools are ranked according to the largest amount of recyclables per capita, total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, and the highest recycling rate.

Due to recent efforts by colleges and universities around the country to "go green," more and more external reviewers have been noticing RecycleMania. The program has earned a reputation as a barometer of each school's effort, according to the RecycleMania Web site, and has been featured by Newsweek and Kaplan and Peterson's college guides, as well as in the Princeton Review's 2008 sustainability index of colleges and universities.

Posted on Monday, February 09, 2009

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