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Ohio State in competition to out-recycle other universities

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Ohio State is getting into a competitive spirit about trash disposal — specifically, recycling.

RecycleMania is an eight-week recycling competition that takes place each spring and involves colleges across the U.S. and Canada reporting the amount of recyclables and trash they collect each week. Last year, OSU collected 517,680 total pounds of recycling material over eight weeks, said Tom Reeves, director of Student Life energy management and sustainability, in an email.

Reeves said OSU is attempting to market the event more this year.

“In the past, we’ve primarily focused on the residence halls and this year we increased our marketing efforts to include the (Ohio) Union, the rec centers, as well as some class buildings,” Reeves said. “We track the amount of recycling in Student Life facilities, which includes residence halls, dining facilities, the Union, the RPAC, for five of the eight weeks, and we then use that data to see how we’re doing each year to track the amount of waste that’s diverted from the landfill.”

OSU has collected 161,991 pounds of recycling material through week seven of the competition this year, putting it at No. 97 out of 330 schools, according to the Recyclemania website. Rutgers University, which was No. 1 in the category last year, is in first place with more than 1.18 million pounds collected.

Reeves said there is no fee to participate, and many students are participating, regardless of whether they’re aware of it.

“All trash and recycling is collected and measured on campus during the competition,” Reeves said. “So if you’re throwing something away, or even if you’re not but instead choosing to reuse bottles or containers, you’re participating.”

He said Student Life does the measuring.

Aysia Loveless, a second-year in microbiology, said she doesn’t typically recycle and didn’t know OSU was taking part in the competition.

“OSU’s participation in RecycleMania is a good idea if people knew about it because I definitely would have been more conscious of recycling,” Loveless said.

Paula Kelbley, a fourth-year in business, said although she usually recycles on campus, she didn’t know it was being tracked.

“Recycling is really good, but since there’s a lack of knowledge about the competition, I don’t know if it’s really worth us participating if no one knows about (it),” Kelbley said.

Reeves said the easiest way to do more is to think about what is being thrown away and to double-check if it’s being put into the right bin.

“If you’re pitching a water bottle, then put it in a recycling bin. If you’re throwing away clean paper, put it in the recycling bin. If you’re throwing away food, it goes in the trash can,” Reeves said.

The primary benefit of the RecycleMania competition, Reeves said, is that it helps to highlight the recycling efforts for OSU.

“Most people around campus realize that we do recycle, but during our busy days, we sometimes forget which container specific items go in and we just toss the trash and go,” Reeves said. “RecycleMania helps people to think twice before pitching their trash, to help make sure only recyclable material ends up in the recycling bin, and everything else goes in the trash can.”

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