Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The annual RecycleMania competition has started

This is the 13th year UMass will be participating

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(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

By Abigail Charpentier, Assistant News Editor

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From Sunday, Feb. 4 to Saturday, March 31, the University of Massachusetts will be competing in the 2018 RecycleMania tournament, the national competition that promotes increasing recycling rates and waste reduction on the campuses of colleges and universities.

During these eight weeks, the Office of Waste Management will be collecting data, such as how many tons of bottles, cans, cardboard, and paper students have recycled, and reporting it to RecycleMania. Based on this information, RecycleMania will rank the 400 participating schools in categories and post the results. Rankings will be updated on a weekly basis, but the final results will be posted on April 16.

John Pepi, general manager of the Office of Waste Management, said UMass usually ranks best in the “food waste composting” category, consistently ranking in the top 10. UMass also ranks well in the grand recycling rate, finishing last year’s competition with 51.5 percent.

Regarding this year’s RecycleMania competition, Pepi said, “we are hoping it makes some difference and we will get better results than we did in past years, even though our results were reasonably good.”

According to RecycleMania’s website, “national recognition is provided to the winning school in each category on the RecycleMania website and in a national press release. Winning schools receive an award made out of recyclable materials, and win the right to host that category’s special traveling trophy for the coming year.”

UMass Residential Life and the Residence Hall Association are working to encourage students in on-campus housing to participate in RecycleMania.

Rohen Sundaram, relations coordinator for the Residence Hall Association, said RHA will encourage waste reduction and recycling behaviors through interactions, programming, and events.

“Some incentives to participate beyond bettering our campus and the environment is each week, five students from the Residence Hall [with the highest recycling rate] will be randomly selected to win solar charges.” said Sundaram, a sophomore public health major.

Director of Retail Dining Van Sullivan helped develop the free coffee incentive in order to spread RecycleMania to locations across campus, rather than just in residential halls.

Each Monday during the competition, students will receive a free, regular coffee when they bring a reusable mug and mention RecycleMania to the cashier. All 24 retail dining locations, excluding the Baby Berk food trucks, will be offering free coffee on the promotional days.

“We are just trying to promote a really, really great program,” Sullivan said. “We found a way that we can do it in retail locations in an effective way to get people to think a little bit and hopefully promote RecycleMania across campus.”

Sullivan said only about 30 people participated the first Monday, but expects hundreds of students to participate in the following weeks once the promotion is better known.

Additionally, Sullivan hopes to advertise the discounted coffee price offered at UMass retail dining locations. Two years ago, locations across campus started offering 25 cents off each coffee order when the customer brought in a reusable mug.

“All of the stuff you get in a coffee shop is compostable; the lid, the sleeve, the wood stirrer, the cup itself, is still waste,” Sullivan explained. “We would much rather have you bring a mug and don’t create any waste. It’s no skin off of our back because that’s roughly the cost of those things.”

Pepi is excited that more of the campus community is participating in this year’s RecycleMania competition and that the University has a large, promotional campaign.

“This is the first time I’ve seen such a campus-wide effort in promoting and educating people about the competition and trying to get people to buy-in and do their best in these eight weeks,” Pepi said. “In all the years of the competition before we never had this.”

Pepi also said they have chosen 10 schools similar in size and organization to follow closely and compete directly against. These schools include Boston College, University of California at Berkley, Colorado State University at Fort Collins, Harvard University, University of New Hampshire, Ohio State University, University of Pittsburgh, Rutgers University and Syracuse University.  The results of week one—Feb 4. to Feb. 11—will be posted on Feb. 16 and can be found on OWM’s site.

RecycleMania began in 2001 and has had over 1,000 schools in the United States and Canada participate. UMass began competing in 2005.

Abigail Charpentier can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @abigailcharp.

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