Lawrence University students, faculty and staff are among the best recyclers in the country based on the early returns of the 2010 RecycleMania competition.

In the competition’s Per Capita Classic category, which tracks the amount of acceptable recyclables per person, Lawrence ranked 11th nationally among 315 colleges and universities through the first two weeks of the contest, which began Jan. 17.

Lawrence had recycled 8.67 pounds per person, just a few soda cans behind no. 10 Stanford University’s average of 8.73 pounds. Colorado College was leading the category at 18.73 pounds per person. Lawrence was the top recycler among 10 Wisconsin colleges participating in the per capita category, which includes St. Norbert College, UW-Madison and UW-Oshkosh.

“This is an opportunity to see how much recycling and waste reduction we can do if we come together as a community and focus our energy,” said Jeff Clark, faculty associate to the president for Green Roots: the sustainable Lawrence initiative. “The data we get from this also helps us identify areas that we need to improve upon, so it will have lasting effects even after the competition is over.”

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

Sponsored by the College and University Recycling Council, a technical council of the National Recycling Coalition, RecycleMania has several goals, among them increase on-campus recycling participation by students and staff, heighten awareness of a schools’ waste management and recycling programs, lower waste generated on-campus and expand economic opportunities while addressing environmental issues in a positive way.

First conducted in 2001 between Miami University and Ohio University, the RecycleMania competition has grown steadily every year since. In 2009, all 50 states were represented for the first time and in 2010, a record 607 colleges and universities across the United States, Canada and as far away as Qatar are participating. This year’s competition runs through March 27.

RecycleMania includes four primary competition categories:

• Grand Champion, which combines trash and core recyclable materials to determine a school’s recycling rate as a percentage of its overall waste generation.

• Per Capita Classic, in which schools compete to see which can collect the largest combined amount of paper, cardboard and bottles and cans per person.

• Waste Minimization, in which schools compete to see which produces the least amount of municipal solid waste (recyclables and trash) per person.

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