UC Berkeley began competing last week in RecycleMania, a contest between colleges in the United States and Canada designed to divert waste from landfills through recycling and composting.
During the eight-week competition, participating schools report the amount of recycling and trash collected on their campuses each week, and competitors can check their performances against opposing colleges. RecycleMania ranks colleges in several categories: which schools recycle the most, have the best recycling rate as a percentage of total waste and generate the least amount of combined trash and recycling.
In addition to national recognition, the winning schools receive an award made out of recyclable materials and the right to host the category’s traveling trophy.
“Wherever we place, this competition is a way for us to be aware of where we rank and a vehicle for education and outreach on campus,” said Lin King, Campus Recycling and Refuse Services manager.
In order to spread awareness of the competition, Campus Recycling and Refuse Services and the ASUC Sustainability Team will table on Sproul Plaza and have partnered with campus comedy group jericho! to put together an informative YouTube video about recycling.
According to King, despite the campus’ eco-friendly reputation, it currently has a diversion rate of around 40 percent — markedly lower than the UC-wide goal of 75 percent diversion in 2012. Claire Evans, program coordinator at the campus Compost Alliance, attributes this shortfall to lack of education among both students and custodial staff.
“Additionally, there is a problem of material,” Evans said. “If you buy items on campus that aren’t recyclable or compostable, what other choice do you have but to throw them in the trash?”
King said students should work toward the UC-wide goal of zero waste by 2020 through recycling paper, bottles and cans in their separately labeled receptacles and using compost bins in campus restrooms and Cal Dining facilities.