Race Against Time to See Who Can Recycle the Most

The University of Maryland has a huge challenge on its plate, as it takes part in a nation-wide competition with more than 400 other colleges and universities to see who can recycle the most. This year's "Recyclemania" event started January 27 and ends April 5 - with the winner getting nothing more than bragging rights. Several ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) schools are involved. "From paper to bottles and from cardboard to cans, let's trash the Blue Devils, Tar Heels, and Cavaliers!" says University Relations Vice President Remington Brodie with a smile.

A state law - the Maryland Recycling Act - requires all counties and state units - including the University of Maryland - to recycle. Since its enactment in 1998, more than 1,000,000 tons of trash are being recycled throughout Maryland each year. The university has been working hard to improve campus recycling - in 2004, only 17% of waste was being recycled. During the 2007 calendar year that figure jumped to 41%. "The University of Maryland has placed a high priority on recycling over the past few years," says Student Affairs Vice President Linda Clement. She says that while Maryland has made good progress, entering the Recyclemania contest will help "maintain and enhance this upward trend." Download the 2008 Recylcemania fact sheet (PDF)

In fact, the university is already ahead of last year - when its weekly recycling effort jumped 91 percent over the ten weeks of the competition (from 37,000 pounds in the first week of the competition to 71,000 at the end of the competition). In addition, 8600 pounds of food waste was recycled each week. Maryland placed 6th in the ACC and 3rd in the state with 15.87 cumulative pounds or waste recycled per person. But overall, the university came in 90th - and the competition has grown from 199 schools to the 400+ in this year's competition

Students are the Key To Success

Maria Lonsbury, a project coordinator specialist in the Office of Vice President for Student Affairs, is coordinating Maryland's Recyclemania effort this year along with Sandy Dykes, who is an assistant director in Facilities Management, and Cindy Felice, an associate director in Resident Life. Lonsbury says the key to success this year is to get students much more involved in the recycling competition. "We're working very hard to tap into the students." She says there's already new excitement and energy thanks to student involvement.

One way to reach students is by promoting Recyclemania during Maryland basketball games. "We had a recycling competition during half time at the women's game January 31, and we will do it again at the men's game on Sunday, March 2," says Lonsbury. "There is a PSA, the Recyclemania logo on the Jumbotron, a Recyclemania competition at half-time with prizes that include gift certificates to Adele's Restaurant on campus compliments of Dining Services. The pep squad also tosses out Recyclemania at Maryland T shirts into the crowd."

Ongoing Recycling Efforts

Terrapin Trader - University of Maryland

The University of Maryland's efforts at recycling go way beyond just paper, plasic and bottles. Terrapin Trader is a regional effort to recycle virtually everything from automobiles to desks, computers to surplus scientific equipment. Many other colleges and universities in the Washington, D.C. area use Terrapin Trader to recycle their surplus matierals. See this Newsdesk feature about Terrapin Trader.

The university has also worked with Apple and the City of College Park to hold major recycling events each year for electronic equipment.. Electronics recycling was held on campus in May 2006 and June 2007. The next one is planned for the summer of 2008. Tons of electronic equipment have been recycled thanks to the effort.

The university also will continue its green efforts during Maryland Day 2008. Last year Dining Services provided recyclable utensils and plates made from sugarcane. 40, 50 gallon containers of food waste were recycled. Look for more receptacles in 2008 and additional information about environmental sustainability.

How Recyclemania Works

Each week, the university reports its recyclables and waste weights. Recyclemania calculates Maryland's standing in the competition relative to the university's enrollment, resident student population and number of staff. Weekly ratings will be publicized to the Maryland community throughout the competition at www.environment.umd.edu/recycle and through other locations on campus.

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