In what has become a campus tradition, California State University San Marcos triumphed in the Environmental Protection Agency’s RecycleMania contest by winning the national “Grand Champion” title for the fifth year in a row. The Grand Champion award is given to the campus that has the highest percentage of overall waste that is recycled during the 10-week competition period. CSUSM beat out 510 university competitors from across the country to win the honor. 

RecycleMania was launched in 2001 as a friendly challenge between Ohio University and Miami University to increase recycling on their campuses. The contest has expanded rapidly in eight years’ time from two schools in 2001 to 510 colleges and universities in 2009 spanning all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. Over a 10-week period, campuses compete to see which institution can collect the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate.

CSUSM has become the school to beat, racking up five number-one rankings as Grand Champion since 2005.  This year CSUSM took first place with a 78.09 percent recycling rate, beating out second-place Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering by 13.87 percent and third-place New Mexico State University by 14.07 percent.

Carl Hanson, CSUSM’s recycling coordinator, attributes this year’s fifth consecutive win to an entire campus effort. “It’s part of our culture here,” said Hanson. “There are dozens of receptacles for paper, glass, plastic, aluminum, and paper on all major campus walkways and near entrances to classrooms and buildings. Receptacles are easy to recognize and distinguish, which means that contamination is reduced.”

“It’s a huge feat!” exclaimed Ed Johnson, director of facilities services. “When you look at who we are competing against – universities that are more established with impressive recycling budgets and staff – it’s quite an accomplishment that we continue to excel.”  

Johnson also echoed Hanson’s sentiment regarding the campus culture. “It is really a campus-wide effort,” he said. “The paradigm has shifted and students, staff, and faculty are not only recycling but rethinking their initial purchases, buying post consumables when possible or not purchasing something at all.”

Results over the 10-week competition period showed that CSUSM recycled 4.23 pounds of paper per person, 1.13 pounds of corrugated cardboard per person, .20 pounds of aluminum per person, and .02 pounds of food service organics per person.  CSUSM’s full-time student, staff, and faculty population is 8,781.

What’s next for CSUSM?  “We don’t want to get too comfortable,” Hanson commented. “Our ultimate goal is zero waste, further reducing trash and recyclables!”

For more information about RecycleMania, visit http://www.recyclemaniacs.org/overview.htm.

Interesting Facts

Results over the 10-week competition period showed that CSUSM recycled 4.23 pounds of paper per person, 1.13 pounds of corrugated cardboard per person, .20 pounds of aluminum per person, and .02 pounds of food service organics per person. CSUSM’s full-time student, staff, and faculty population is 8,781.