By Laura Fenton
Ready, set — recycle!
RecycleMania is one of several sustainability initiatives on campus that has helped
the U of M double its recycling efforts the past few years. In 2009, the campus recycled
76 tons of paper. By 2010, the campus had increased to 142 tons of paper for the year.
RecycleMania, a collegiate recycling competition, kicked off its annual drive on Feb.
6, and the only way to secure the University of Memphis a top ranking is for all students,
faculty and staff to reduce, reuse and most of all, recycle.
“Recycling coordinators understand that the natural rivalry that exists on college
campuses is a great way to tap student interest and get them engaged, particularly
in research conservation issues,” said Alec Cooley, program manager for RecycleMania.
The program started informally between rival schools Miami University of Ohio and
Ohio University in 2001 and has grown rapidly. This year, 630 colleges are competing
in the drive, 10 of which are from Tennessee.
It is the second year the U of M will participate and first year it will compete among
other schools. The collection total of a first-year program sets a “benchmark” that
is used when it competes against other schools in the years following. All school
collections end on April 2.
“I’m definitely hoping to see an improvement because last year was our first time
to do it,” said Amelia Mayahi, sustainability coordinator at the U of M. “We’ve lived
and learned from our process and hopefully can make it better this year.”
Mayahi and volunteers will continue four of the components of RecycleMania again this
year: a Greek competition between sororities and fraternities; a dorm competition;
educational programming at the Tiger Den; and the availability of recycling bins around
Two new features for this year are recycling in the kitchen of the Aramark dining
halls on campus and a “Shred Day” to shred and discard sensitive documents. (Date
of Shred Day to be announced soon.)
Recycling packaging from cooking ingredients in the kitchens is not necessarily visible
to students, but Mayahi believes it is a demographic of campus that will greatly increase
the University’s weight total.
“Shred Day” is an event Mayahi added specifically with faculty and staff in mind.
“There’s so much they have document-wise from the ’70s and ’80s that they don’t need
anymore but has to be securely shredded,” she said.
The weight amounts from “Shred Day” will also be added to the U of M’s totals for
So how will RecycleMania work?
“Every single one of the bins that we have on campus is going to be a part of it,”
Totals will include plastic, paper, aluminum, glass and tin cans collected anywhere
Weight totals will be calculated on campus, but the recycling facility will send the
final numbers to RecycleMania for the running totals of the competition.
Schools compete in nine categories based on materials and overall percentages. The
top five winners of each category will be announced April 15.
Although RecycleMania lasts only eight weeks, the habit to recycle continued well
after the drive concluded last year.
“We’re increasing with regular recycling without competition,” Mayahi said.
In 2009, the campus recycled 76 tons of paper. By 2010, the campus had increased to
142 tons of paper for the year.
“I’m hoping to see that keep increasing as well,” she said.
In 2010, 607 colleges and universities collected more than 84.5 million pounds of
recyclables and compostable organics, which prevented the release of 137,500 metric
tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E) into the atmosphere.
RecycleMania is run by the RecycleMania Steering Committee, comprised of recycling
managers from six participating universities, and with support from the national non-profit
Keep America Beautiful.
For more information about RecycleMania, visit www.recyclemaniacs.org.
For a video on recycling, visit www.memphis.edu/uofmvideos and search for “University of Memphis recycling.”