March 02, 2012

University competing in RecycleMania

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale is participating in the 2012 RecycleMania Collegiate Recycling Competition, an eight-week national challenge to see which college campus can reduce, re-use or recycle the most campus waste.

The contest began Feb. 5 and runs through March 30. More than 300 schools from every state in the country, along with Washington, D.C., and five Canadian provinces are participating.  The goal is to see which school can recycle the most on a per capita basis, which can produce the smallest amount of waste and which recycles the largest percentage of their overall waste production.

SIU Carbondale is submitting data showing the weight each week of paper, cardboard, cans/bottles, food waste and general trash at the University.  While competing against all of the other schools, the goal is to come out on top for recycling in the Missouri Valley Conference, according to Megan Pulliam, a graduate student in public administration from Pekin who serves as the University’s graduate assistant recycling coordinator. ‘

After the first week, the University was tops in the conference for recycling rate and first in total amount recycled, she said.  Updated totals and comparisons are available at

“Participating in RecycleMania is an opportunity for SIU to amp up our recycling game.  We recycle a lot here, but there are literally tons of recyclables still going to the landfill.  Students, faculty and staff can help by recycling all cans, bottles and paper in the appropriate bins and by reporting areas that need more bins or clearer labeling,” Pulliam said.  “To meet our goal of pulling ahead of the other universities in the conference, we need to recycle about 26 percent of our overall waste.  Over the past few weeks, we have averaged 19 percent for the materials we report to RecycleMania.”

The contest incorporates several measurement criteria.  The calculations include the amount of trash removed from campus, the food refuse from campus that goes to vermicomposting, and the amount of cardboard, paper, bottles, cans and glass recycled.  

The program began as a challenge between Miami University of Ohio and Ohio State University in 2001 and it is now an independent program from RecycleMania, Inc., with a steering committee comprised of recycling managers from participating universities governing it.  The national non-profit group Keep America Beautiful manages it. 

SIU Carbondale participated 2007-2009 and after a short hiatus, is back on track in 2012, Pulliam said.  She notes that various units on campus are supporting the initiative and campus recycling efforts. 

“Recreational Sports and Services takes our recycling program very seriously, as we are entrusted to be good stewards with the facilities and resources entrusted to us.  We need to preserve and operate our facilities as efficiently as possible.  Greening operations has a positive impact on your bottom line and on the experiences of our visitors.  For example, since installing our hydration stations and promoting reusable water bottles, we have kept 180,000 plastic bottles out of waste sites,” said Corné Prozesky, associate director of the Student Recreation Center. 

University Housing also promotes sustainable living in a variety of ways, from growing produce for the dining tables to recycling to sending food waste for vermicomposting.

“Students living in University Housing have the opportunity to recycle on a daily basis.  With the convenience of recycling bins on every residence hall floor, students have control over how much they are contributing to landfills.  RecycleMania gives our living communities the opportunity to come together to reduce, reuse and recycle,” said resident assistant Leigh Cardosi.

Numerous other campus units and departments are also doing their part, and the goal is to get everyone to join the effort to reduce, reuse and recycle, Pulliam said.  Flyers in residence halls and information tables at the Student Center and Faner Hall are helping increase awareness and spread information about the contest and campus sustainability. 

To learn more about what can be recycled, visit For more information about the University’s RecycleMania program, contact Pulliam at or or call 618/453-7180.