Binghamton University competes in nationwide Recyclemania

Recycling competition aimed at increasing awareness, educating students

A routine participant of RecycleMania, Binghamton University is gearing up once again for an eight-week marathon of recycling madness.

RecycleMania is a nationwide contest among hundreds of colleges across the United States and Canada to see which can recycle the most paper, plastic, metal and cardboard in a nearly two-month stretch.

“This year there’s 461 schools competing with at least one school in each state and most Canadian provinces,” said Alex Cooley, program manager of RecycleMania. “The grand champion is awarded for the highest percentage of trash recycled. Other notable awards include per capita which is most recycled per person. You can go online week by week and see how your school may rise or fall.”

According to the RecycleMania website, BU’s best numbers were in 2010, when the University placed 22nd out of more than 600 schools.

Last year, BU languished closer to the middle, finishing in 235th place out of 523 schools. However, Martin Larocca, resource recovery manager in Physical Facilities, said those statistics did not tell the whole story.

“We’ve been doing pretty well. Compared with other SUNYs, we are competitive,” he said. “We compare ourselves to schools of similar size. If you compare a school of 16,000 to a school of 2,000 people, the results are going to be very skewed.”

Cooley agreed and said there were a variety of awards offered each year that give schools the opportunity to showcase their strengths.

“Schools with the least trash tend to be small schools or community colleges,” Cooley said. “Different categories recognize school achievement differently. Even schools that may not be recognized as largely sustainable or environmental schools can win awards because of who they are.”

Larocca, who has run RecycleMania at BU since 2011, added that over the past few years, BU has made recycling more accessible to students and faculty around campus.

“We’ve been replacing smaller blue bins with larger ones, and I know there is a recycling bin in almost every hall,” Larocca said.

Larocca said that one of the most important goals was to keep educating the student body.

“Our standard practice is education first. Giving presentations to the student body, explaining recycling procedures and tabling at different events,” he said. “Once you’ve educated people, you hope they will make the decision to hold on to to their trash another few steps until they see that recycling bin.”

Week by week, the RecycleMania website will tally the results of all colleges participating. As of Thursday night, BU had not yet posted any numbers.