Posted January 25, 2010

Students, staff set for Recyclemania 2010

For the fourth year in a row, Temple students, faculty and staff will face off in heated competition with universities from the region and nationwide to see which weighs the most.

In recyclables, that is.

Recyclemania, a national college recycling and waste reduction contest, pits school against school in an effort to promote sustainability and reduce carbon emissions on campuses nationwide. Over 10 weeks, universities report recycling and trash amounts and are compared against participating institutions. Rankings are published based on cumulative recycling rate, pounds of recyclables collected per person, pounds of waste per person and cumulative recyclables collected.

Students and staff planning Temple’s 2010 effort hope the university can claim top honors among schools competing in the Atlantic 10 athletic conference, and top last year’s 39th place national ranking in the “Gorilla” category for total pounds of recyclables generated. Recyclables counted during the contest include aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers, paper and cardboard, which are collected in containers in common areas and offices throughout campus. Although not counted in Recyclemania, the university also recycles food waste, cooking oil, computers, chemicals and garden waste.

Organizers of the initiative at Temple say the friendly competition provides a useful benchmarking tool and opportunity to promote sustainability among students and staff.

"Although Recyclemania lasts only until mid-March, we hope that it will educate Temple's students and the community about the broader concept of minimizing their impact on the environment year-round," said Eric Smith, an environmental studies major and environmental awareness chair for Temple Student Government.

Temple will officially kick off its 2010 effort at the Jan. 30 men’s basketball game against La Salle University. Held at the Liacouras Center, the event will include a halftime Recyclemania promotion and a giveaway of green rally towels to the first 2,200 Temple students in attendance. In addition, a 20-student “Green Team” will comb the crowd to collect glass, plastic and aluminum beverage containers.

The Recyclemania initiative is a component of the university’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that is part of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment signed by Temple President Ann Weaver Hart in April 2008.

“The more waste we can divert from landfills to recycling, the less CO2 we emit,” said Sandra McDade, director of the Office of Sustainability. “Our goal in the Climate Commitment is to reduce carbon emissions to zero through a combination of recycling, waste reduction, energy conservation and efficiency, alternative energy and carbon offset credits.”

Recycling is just one element of the university’s plan to reduce overall waste. Other programs include a policy that sets common computers to default to two-sided printing in university offices and computer labs; the implementation of reusable containers in place of cardboard for the delivery of office supplies; and an annual residence hall clean out that directs furniture, clothing and small appliances left behind by students to charitable organizations. The university also has established new policies that mandate the use of paper with recycled content for copiers, letterhead and business cards.

Temple’s Recyclemania efforts have been planned by a group that includes the student organizations Temple Student Government, Students for Environmental Action, the Residential Housing Association and representatives from the offices of Sustainability, Facilities Management, Athletics and Student Affairs. Although students were central to its planning, the Recyclemania contest is truly a university-wide initiative," said McDade.

“We hope that faculty and staff will embrace this program as well,” she said. “For us to succeed, it will be important that everyone contributes.”

Members of the university community can track Temple’s progress on displays that will be mounted at the Bell Tower throughout the program’s ten weeks, or online via Temple’s Recyclemania website.