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May  09, 2011

Augustana’s recycling efforts earn top prize in national contest

Augustana won second place for amount of paper recycled in a nationwide recycling competition called RecycleMania. 360 colleges and universities nationwide participated in a variety of categories over an eight-week period. Among other Illinois schools, Augustana won first place for overall amount of recycling per person, first place for recycled paper, first place for bottles/cans and second place for cardboard.

Augustana started participating in RecycleMania in 2007 and has won the "Per Capita" category in Illinois every year. This year the campus recycled over 88,000 pounds of material that otherwise would have gone to a local landfill.

Bill Fineran, manager of custodial services, said the custodial department and Augustana community are the key to success. "RecycleMania is just a 8-week competition, but recycling continues throughout the year," Fineran said. "The students, faculty and staff have had a high commitment to recycling from the start, and awareness and participation have steadily increased."

Global Affect, a student group that encourages sustainable living on campus, was instrumental in Augustana's success in RecycleMania. Senior Veronica Smith, an art history and environmental studies double major and president of Global Affect, was pleased to see the campus's efforts recognized on the national level.

"Global Affect does a lot to encourage recycling," Smith said. "We organize campus clean-ups throughout the year, put out publications via email or poster informing the campus what can be recycled, and lead workshops in creative and fun ways to recycle. RecycleMania transforms recycling into a kind of game so people want to take part."

RecycleMania is an independent program started 11 years ago by the RecycleMania Steering Company. This year, the contest resulted in 91 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials, which prevented the release of nearly 127,553 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E). The reduction in greenhouse gases is equivalent to the annual emissions from more than 25,010 passenger cars.

Colleges can participate in any of eight categories, such as "Grand Champion" that measures recycling as percentage of total waste generation, "Per Capita Classic" that measures pounds of recyclables per person and "Waste Minimization" that tracks the lowest amount of waste per person. There are also specific materials categories that measure amounts of paper, cardboard, cans/bottles and food waste recycling on a per capita basis.

Top-placers in the main categories were California State University-San Marcos, "Grand Champion;" Union College of Schenectady, NY, "Per Capita Classic;" and North Lake College of Irving, Texas, "Waste Minimization."

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833