RecycleMania takes hold of campus

Rice University is in annual intercollegiate recycling competition

If students, staff and faculty are more aware of how green campus is over the next several weeks, it might be spring fever — or it might be RecycleMania.

Rice University is again participating in the annual intercollegiate recycling competition that, this year, involves 605 schools across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five Canadian provinces. During the competition, which began Feb. 5 and runs through March 30, participating schools report recycling and trash data and are then ranked according to who collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita and has the highest recycling rate.

A group of Rice undergraduates, led by Lovett College junior Brian Strasters, is teaming with students from other institutions in the Greater Houston area on several friendly competitions. Among the events planned in the coming weeks are:

  • The Student Association Environmental Committee, with the help of Engineer Without Borders (EWB), will host a clothing recycling event. Clothes collected will be donated to EWB for their trips.
  • The Environmental Club will host an electronics recycling drive.
  • The eco reps at each of the residential colleges are challenging students with the Green Dorm Initiative. Students sign up to monitor their sustainability practices in their dorms for a week and are rated on how green they are. Students can earn rewards, including gift cards, water bottles and reusable bags.

Rice has participated in RecycleMania since 2006 — the first Texas school to jump in the game — but this year will be the first time that the university has had single-stream recycling for the entire competition.

Single-stream recycling means that recyclable materials can be mixed in the same recycling bin. Those blue recycling bins in buildings all over campus can be filled with any combination of paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, glass, juice boxes, tin and steel can and plastic beverage and food containers marked with codes 1-5 or 7. (Rice cannot recycle Styrofoam, polystyrene food containers [code No. 6] and plastic bags.)

Richard Johnson, director of energy and sustainability and professor in the practice of environmental study, hopes single-stream recycling will boost Rice’s recycling efforts long after the competition is over.

“Historically, Rice’s recycling rate has been around 25 percent,” he said. “This means that one in every four pounds of trash on campus is recycled. With single-stream recycling, Rice hopes to achieve a 40 percent recycling rate.”

In the first week of this year’s competition, Rice recycled 31 percent of all its trash.

For more information on Recyclemania, visit For ongoing updates on Rice’s progress in the competition, visit the RecycleMania at Rice University 2012 Facebook page. To request a desk-side recycling bin of an office, email; provide pertinent information, including your name, building name, room number and contact information.


About Jennifer Evans

Jennifer Evans is a senior editor in the Rice's Office of Public Affairs.