Posted February 4, 2009

Competition gives trash talking new meaning

Temple aims for local supremacy as RecycleMania gets underway

Once again, Temple is in heated competition with cross-town rivals like the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel, St. Joe’s and Villanova. Only this time, the winner won’t be determined on a court or field, but rather in the recycling bins on each of the campuses.

RecycleMania 2009, a 10-week, nationwide college competition to increase recycling participation and heighten awareness of waste management and recycling, is currently underway. The competition officially began Jan. 18, but Temple held its kick-off event Jan. 28.

Although the competition includes colleges and universities from throughout the nation, campus organizers again hope to

RecycleMania kick-off event
Photo by Ryan Brandenberg/Temple University
At the Jan. 28 RecycleMania kick-off event, members of Temple’s “Green Team” distributed information, stickers and collection bins to encourage students to increase campus recycling efforts.

claim supremacy against Temple’s Big Five collegiate neighbors in Philadelphia. Last year, the University of Pennsylvania claimed top honors in the Gorilla Prize category among the city schools, with Temple finishing second, a reversal of 2007 when Temple reigned.

Last year, Temple collected 217 tons of recyclables, an increase of 12.5 percent over 2007. And while no specific weight goal has been targeted for this year’s RecycleMania competition, Jeffrey Rupertus, communications assistant in Temple’s Office of Sustainability, said one goal is certainly clear.

“Our main competition is Penn, but also the other Philadelphia schools,” said Rupertus. “Last year Penn beat us and this year, we want to beat Penn. That’s our goal and I think we can do it.”

Rupertus said that the Temple organizers have targeted student groups such as Students for Environmental Action and Students for Responsible Business, as well as the Green Team, which comprises student leaders and others from around the university, to help get the word out. In addition, the competition is being promoted on slides running on plasma TVs throughout Main Campus.

One enthusiastic member of the Green Team, Nikkita Thompson, said that the Temple organizers are also providing positive reinforcement by handing out buttons to those caught in the act of throwing something in a recycling bin around campus.

“Handing out the buttons to people who recycle may seem like a little thing, but just acknowledging that people are doing a good thing can go a long way,” said Thompson, a dual secondary education and history major who is also events co-chair of the Main Campus Program Board. “That button will also serve to remind people of what they have done.”

And while Pennsylvania has the most schools participating in RecycleMania with 48, Thompson has her eyes set on a bigger goal: the national prize.

“Any school in the competition is my competition,” she said. “I want to win and I know the Green Team wants to win. We want those bragging rights.”

To make recycling easier around campus, Temple has simplified the process by condensing three recycling containers into two. Plastic and glass bottles, as well as aluminum cans, can be deposited into a blue container, while a second white container can be used for any type of paper — either white or colored.

In addition to the Office of Sustainability and the two student groups, RecycleMania efforts at Temple are also being coordinated by Facilities Management, the Recycling Office, Student Affairs Activities, Sodexo and a number of other student organizations. To learn more about the competition and to track Temple's progress, visit Temples RecycleMania web site at or the national web site at