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April 17, 2014

RecycleMania goal reached, but totals drop

recyclemania-300x208With a reported 18.98 recycled pounds per person, the University surpassed its goal of 16 pounds per person on the Pittsburgh campus during the 2014 RecycleMania challenge.

Recycling numbers were down from a year ago, something that was attributed to the University implementing more sustainable practices in the last year, such as the Read Green program, a limit on the use of corrugated cardboard for deliveries and the installation of water bottle filling stations.

RecycleMania is a competition among colleges and universities in the United States and Canada aimed at advocating waste reduction activities. This year’s competition ran from Feb. 2-March 29. Results were posted on April 12.

Pitt reported a total of 740,220 pounds recycled this year on the Pittsburgh campus, an 8.8 percent dip from last year’s number. All Pitt-managed educational/general and Housing buildings as well as the Petersen Events Center participated in the challenge.

Pitt estimated that its total recycled amount over the competition is equivalent to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 987 metrics tons  of CO2 or taking 208 passenger vehicles off the road for a year. This also can be equated to the annual energy use of 90 homes as well as 111,000 gallons of consumed gasoline (based on EPA’s greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator).

“This year saw the expansion of the program to include basketball game day recycling,” said Will Mitchell, a staff member in Facilities Management. “This allowed our student body to promote the program in a new way by personally collecting material and providing a visual presence during the event. We would like to thank our student groups, particularly Free the Planet, who take the lead with promotional efforts each year and do a great job. RecycleMania is a rewarding event that helps show the level of commitment the University community puts forth to promote sustainability on campus.”

Grand champion

Pitt ranked No. 56 out of 256 competing schools in the Grand Champion challenge, while finishing second behind Temple in the state as well as second behind Maryland among Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) schools with a total recycling rate of 39.326 percent. Antioch University in Seattle finished first with a recycling rate of 93.133 percent.

Per capita classic

Pitt’s 18.98 recycled pounds per person ranked it No. 62 of 333 total schools, No. 5 in Pennsylvania and fourth in the ACC. Pitt’s average dropped slightly from the University’s 19.72 pounds per person last year. Finishing first in this category, Kalamazoo College recycled 48.624 pounds per capita.

Gorilla Prize

Measuring the total amount recycled (740,220 recycled pounds), Pitt finished No. 10 of 337 total schools, but was the top ranking school in the state and second in the ACC. Rutgers finished No. 1 in this category with 1,353,940 pounds.

Corrugated cardboard and paper

With a top ranking in the state for both corrugated cardboard (341,450 pounds saved) and paper (377,470 pounds), Pitt finished No. 15 and No. 16 nationally in these categories, respectively. Among ACC schools, Pitt ranked No. 2 in the corrugated cardboard competition and No. 3 in paper.


Pitt also reported a total of 21,000 pounds in bottles and cans recycled.

The Pittsburgh campus ranked No. 99 nationally in waste minimization with 48.264 total pounds per person, up from 42.33 pounds last year.

—Alex Oltmanns