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January 24, 2013

Recycling challenge begins

recycle canPitt is increasing its recycling goals as the Pittsburgh campus prepares for RecycleMania, a 10-week nationwide challenge.

In the 2012 competition, 6.2 million people across 605 university campuses in the United States and Canada recycled or composted 94.4 million pounds of materials, according to RecycleMania organizers.

The Pittsburgh campus’s portion of that total was 478,650 pounds.

Two weeks of test collections began Jan. 20 prior to the Feb. 2 start of the competition period. Participating campuses will track collections through March 30, with final results to be announced on April 12.

Last year, the Pittsburgh campus recycled 34.11 percent of its total waste and surpassed its goal of collecting 12 pounds of recyclables per person with 12.02 pounds.

Laura W. Zullo, Facilities Management’s senior manager for energy initiatives, said this year’s goal is 12.5 pounds per person.

Although the campus barely surpassed last year’s goal, “We’d like to push it,” she said. “We keep striving to do better.”

New this year, collections from the Petersen Events Center and the University Club — buildings where recycling is not coordinated by Facilities Management — will be included in the Pittsburgh campus’s tally.

Pitt is upping its RecycleMania goal for paper from 4 pounds to 4.5 pounds per person. That category is one in which Pitt has done well and an increase is most achievable, Zullo said.

To boost collection of paper and other recyclables, once again faculty and staff are being encouraged to use the March 10 spring recess week as an opportunity to clean out their workspaces. Facilities Management will provide extra recycling containers upon request. (Email requests to

Zullo said the goal for cardboard will remain at 7 pounds per person and for bottles and cans, 1 pound per person.

According to final RecycleMania results, in the 2012 competition the campus tallied 7.09 pounds of cardboard, 4.21 pounds of paper and 0.72 pounds of bottles and cans per person. Zullo said it’s been difficult to increase recycling of glass and plastic, theorizing that people on campus may be using fewer bottles and cans. One possible factor is that many students carry their own reusable bottles that can be refilled at hydration stations around the campus.

Last year’s month-long pilot electronics recycling program will return, Zullo said. Pitt will participate during March. Electronics collection is based on weight and coordinated in conjunction with Surplus Property. Computers, printers and other office electronics, inkjet and toner cartridges, batteries, cellphones, consumer electronics and ancillary items such as chargers, cords and headsets are among the items that can be recycled.

To request free pickup of unwanted computers and other electronic equipment on campus, call Surplus Property at 4-6500 or visit and select the “1 Click” form under the Department Services tab.

To promote RecycleMania, the student environmental group Free the Planet is planning a “waste week” kickoff Feb. 4-8. Events include a trash audit on the Schenley Quad, screening of the film “Wasteland,” a field trip to the Greenstar recycling facility, a tour of the Market Central composter and a recycled art/fashion show.

In addition, Pitt’s Green Team will be promoting recycling at Petersen Events Center games and in messages on The Pete’s banner screens.

As a side note, Zullo said Pitt is trying to be No. 1 among Big East schools competing in RecycleMania in the University’s final year in the Big East athletic conference. “We want to go out with a bang,” she said. Pitt was No. 1 in paper and cardboard collections among Big East schools last year.

Additional information on recycling at Pitt and on the campus’s RecycleMania efforts can be found by clicking on “recycling” at To track progress in the competition, visit

Program management for RecycleMania comes from Keep America Beautiful. Program support is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise program and the College & University Recycling Coalition. Corporate sponsors are Coca Cola, SCA Tissue, Alcoa and the American Forest & Paper Association.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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