Youngstown State University will compete against 522 other colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada to create a more sustainable campus in the RecycleMania tournament, which will run through March 30.
Keep America Beautiful, a nonprofit environmental organization, provides program management and sponsorship for the tournament. Alec Cooley, the director of recycling programs at KAB, said the goal of the program is to increase student participation.
“In many cases, participating in RecycleMania is what can get their recycling program onto the front page,” Cooley said. “That can be helpful as a catalyst for getting more investment and administrative support.”
The competition originally began in January 2001 as a recycling contest between Ohio University and Miami University of Ohio to spur student interest in recycling.
Since then, RecycleMania has become its own nonprofit organization, with many schools throughout the U.S. and Canada participating. YSU joined the tournament in 2004 and has been competitive ever since.
“Last year, we received $1,000 for improving our paper recycling from previous months,” said Dan Kuzma, YSU’s recycling manager.
This year’s contest features 11 categories in which schools can compete, including the new Game Day Recycling event and Gorilla — an event where the school that recycles the most in terms of weight wins. YSU is participating in the full competition, in which the winning school is determined by its overall recycling rate.
“We just monitor paper, cardboard, and cans and bottles,” Kuzma said. “Those are our three reporting [items]. We also report our estimated trash volume.”
Kuzma said that part of YSU’s success comes from student participation.
“It’s not widespread, and I would probably say that at the majority of colleges and universities that do participate, the actual participation [in RecycleMania] is not as high,” Kuzma said.
Kuzma added that the YSU Recycling Program has seen a steady increase in the amount of material recycled over the last several years.
As of Sunday, YSU was ranked 44th out of 208 competing schools.