On February 5, WashU and over two hundred other colleges and universities kicked-off participation in RecycleMania, an eight-week waste reduction and diversion competition. As part of the competition, each school submits weekly data on recycling, composting, and landfill. The data is analyzed weekly to determine every institution’s relative standing on per capita waste generation and its percentage waste diversion. The idea is that through healthy competition, schools can better understand their current level of operation and advocate for better waste reduction practices.
In previous years, RecycleMania has played a particularly important role in WashU’s sustainability outcomes. Not only has it stood testament to the success of novel concepts like compostable containers, but it has also helped us understand our shortcomings. WashU went from ranking 9 out of 232 in 2015 to 110 out of 208 in 2016, which forced the campus community to confront major contamination issues on campus. Knowing that 40% of our recycling loads were being rejected at a cost of almost $30,000 was an important call to action.
Since then, we have observed significant improvement through a renewed focus on recycling education programs like the WashU Green Ambassadors and Recycling Geniuses and through the installation of new signage. The number of rejected recycling loads has decreased from 56% at the worst point to under 12%. With your support, we are well on our way to furthering our efforts!