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RecycleMania Sweeps Campus

National Contest Seeks to Reduce Campus Waste

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As part of the RecycleMania competition, the University is trying to recycle more food waste than other colleges and universities from around the United States and Canada.

By Jill Gambon

UMass Lowell students have distinguished themselves nationally in academics and athletics and now they are aiming for championship-caliber achievements in another area: recycling. 

The campus has joined colleges and universities from across the United States and Canada in a contest called “RecyleMania” which aims to encourage recycling efforts and reduce the amount of solid waste generated. During the eight-week program, participants will benchmark themselves against other schools in different categories, such as paper, food service and electronics recycling. This marks the first time UMass Lowell has entered the competition.

“Our participation in this program is another example of the University’s deep commitment to sustainability,” says Richard Lemoine, director of environmental and emergency management

With a pledge of being carbon-neutral by 2050, the University has stepped up sustainability and energy conservation efforts. A food composting pilot program was launched in September at Fox Hall, the University’s largest dining hall, which turns out 21,000 meals each week. Under the unique program, scraps from meal prep as well as food left on plates are collected and hauled to a local farm for composting. The University and its solid waste hauler are working to expand the food composting to other dining establishments on campus. 

During the RecycleMania “tournament,” which runs from Feb. 2 to March 29, the University will be benchmarking its food service recycling every week against other schools. Throughout the month of March, the campus will conduct an electronics recycling drive to collect old computers, printers, gaming consoles and other items. Bins will be set up around campus for drop off. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to participate. An electronics recycling competition between North and South Campus is also being planned.

RecycleMania was launched in 2001, the outgrowth of a friendly wager between Miami University and Ohio University. Since then, it has grown to include more than 500 institutions with 3.5 million students and staff participating, recycling a total of nearly 91 million pounds last year.