Syracuse University is competing in RecycleMania, the eight-week national recycling and waste reduction competition where colleges across North America are ranked on their recycling, trash and food organics reduction efforts. The competition began Feb. 2 and continues until March 28.
Over the duration of the competition, Sustainability Management will be on campus in various locations educating the campus community about proper recycling. Those who stop by the information table will have the opportunity to play a fun game for a cookie or cupcake. Recycling know-how will also be featured on digital screens across campus, including the Dome.
The University has competed the last several years and historically has done well against other Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) institutions, especially when focusing on total recycling efforts. Last year, Syracuse University topped every other ACC university in the total recycling category. In all, more than 300 colleges and universities across North America competed in the 2019 RecycleMania Tournament, and the University placed 40th nationally.
The RecycleMania competition is broken up into several different categories. Syracuse University participates in the main four: Total Diversion, Total Recycling, the Stephan K Gaski Per Capita Classic and Food Organics. Sustainability Management works with Syracuse Haulers and the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA) to keep track of the weight of all recyclables, trash and food scraps. In addition, all food donated through the Food Recovery Network and all of the bottles and cans collected after each game by ROTC are accounted for in the competition.
The Total Diversion category combines trash, recyclables and food organics to determine each institution’s percent of diverted items from the waste stream. The University has steadily increased its percentage by about one percent each year, ending last year’s competition with a 48 percent diversion rate. Put in perspective, Onondaga County has a diversion rate of 56 percent, one of the highest in the country.
The Total Recycling category recognizes colleges and universities with the highest gross tonnage of combined paper, cardboard, glass, cans, plastic bottles, jugs and dairy tubs. The University utilizes the single stream recycling method, meaning all recyclable plastic bottles, jugs, dairy containers, cardboard, aluminum cans, paper, juice cartons and glass can be placed into one bin and all trash in its own bin. For more information on proper recycling, view the Recycling and Trash infographic on the Sustainability website, under the “Quick Links” section.
Over the course of the eight-week competition, the weight of recyclables divided by the campus population is measured in the Stephan K. Gaski Per Capita Classic. Last year, each person on campus averaged 23.5 pounds of recyclables during the competition. This number includes students, faculty and staff on campus and excludes any weights associated with trash and food organics.
All of the pre- and post-consumer food scraps collected from the dining centers and the South Campus Composting program are collected and reported in the Food Organics category. This also includes any food donated each week to the Rescue Mission by the Food Recovery Network student group. The goal of this category is primarily to reduce food waste, not just divert the food scraps from the waste stream.
The University complies with the Onondaga County Source Separation Law and has on-campus recycling bins for mandatory recyclables, such as paper, cardboard, specific plastics and cans/bottles. The University also recycles specialized items, including batteries, electronics, polystyrene cold shipping boxes, fluorescent light bulbs, scrap metal, compostable yard waste and construction debris.
For more information on sustainability and recycling efforts, visit the Sustainability website, follow @SustainableSU on Twitter and Instagram, and check out the Syracuse University Sustainability Facebook page. Follow along with campus recycling efforts and join the fun by using #recycleright on social media.
To learn more about RecycleMania, visit recyclemania.org/.