MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? For the first time, Middlebury College competed in the United States Environmental Protection Agency's national RecycleMania contest. The sixth annual event attracted 100 schools from 33 states - including eight of the 11 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) schools, of which Middlebury is one. Participants submitted a record of their efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle on their respective campuses over a 10-week period, from Jan. 29 to April 8, competing to collect the largest amount of recyclables, produce the least amount of trash and obtain the highest recycling rate.
Middlebury chose to compete in all seven of the RecycleMania categories, which include:
- Grand Champion: Awarded for greatest achievement in both source reduction and recycling, based on combined results.
- Per Capita Classic: Awarded for collection of the largest amount of acceptable recyclables per person.
- Waste Minimization: Awarded for the least amount of solid waste, including recyclables and trash, per person, emphasizing reuse and reduction over recycling.
- Targeted Materials: In addition to reporting the total amount of materials recycled, schools can report recycled materials separately, including bottles and cans, corrugated cardboard, food service organics and paper.
Amid its national competitors, Middlebury earned top-10 placements in several key categories, including a seventh-place Grand Champion finish, with 36 percent recycled materials, and an eighth place finish in the Per Capita Classic, with nearly 50 pounds per person collected. Within the category of Targeted Materials, Middlebury earned a first place for Organics by collecting an average of 53 pounds of food waste per person to be composted on campus and used to fertilize landscaping, the organic garden, and other vegetation. In all but two categories, Middlebury was ranked first amongst NESCAC schools.
"We performed admirably, and congratulations are due to the entire college community for this accomplishment," said Middlebury College Campus Sustainability Coordinator Jack Byrne. "In addition to having one of the best campus waste management systems in the country, and an outstanding staff who make it work well, we also have strong participation by faculty, students and staff."
"We have an exemplary facilities and recycling program here at Middlebury, fostered by a dedicated and enthusiastic staff. These reaffirming results are testimony to everyone's hard work and commitment," said Associate Vice President for Facilities Susan Personette.
RecycleMania, which began in 2001, is endorsed by the EPA's WasteWise program, the National Recycling Coalition's College and University Recycling Council (CURC), and the National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology Program. Its main goal is to increase student awareness of campus recycling through a fair and friendly competition. In addition, the organization hopes to encourage recycling participation by students and staff, heighten awareness of waste management and recycling programs, expand economic opportunities while addressing environmental issues in a positive way, and create an event that can be repeated and expanded to other campuses in the future. For more information visit www.recyclemania.org.
"One of the key insights that emerged from the competition is that the real prize is in minimizing the waste we generate," said Byrne. "Recycling materials and reusing them is a good thing and helps reduce the size of our ecological footprint. But there is more to be gained by minimizing waste production because it eliminates the need to send material to the landfill where it does no one any good."