Through a concerted campus-wide effort to reduce its waste production, Lawrence University finished ninth among 346 schools in the recently completed 2010 national RecycleMania competition’s per capita classic division.

Lawrence was the division’s top finisher among 14 Wisconsin colleges with an average of 44.65 pounds of recyclables per person, more than double the next closest state school (St. Norbert College, 20.48 lbs. per person). The U.S. Coast Guard Academy won the category’s national title with an average of 81.75 pounds per person.

The 10-week-long competition is a benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities.

Brit Oleson, president of the student environmental organization Greenfire, coordinated Lawrence’s first venture into the RecycleMania competition. She said Lawrence’s strong initial showing was truly a team effort.

“Credit goes to the many members of the Lawrence community who recycled wisely and consciously reduced their personal waste production,” said Oleson. “Our combined efforts over the course of the contest helped divert nearly 115,000 pounds of recyclable materials from ending up in landfills. I hope Recyclemania made members of the Lawrence community realize that even our small campus can have a substantial impact on the environment and the little things we choose to do on a personal basis from day-to-day can and do make a difference.

“A giant ‘thank you’ goes to people in facility services, Campus Life, Bon Appetit and members of Greenfire who all pulled together to help make our first year in this contest a big success,” Oleson added.

RecycleMania was first conducted in 2001 between Miami University and Ohio University. The 2010 competition included a record 607 colleges and universities across the United States, Canada and as far away as Qatar. Schools could participate in four categories:
• Grand Champion, which combined trash and core recyclable materials to determine a school’s recycling rate as a percentage of its overall waste generation.

• Per Capita Classic, which measured the combined amount of paper, cardboard and bottles and cans per person.

• Waste Minimization, which measured the least amount of municipal solid waste (recyclables and trash) per person.

• Gorilla Prize, which calculated the highest gross tonnage of combined paper, cardboard, bottles and cans during the 10-week competition, regardless of campus population.