Ready, set, recycle

The annual RecycleMania tournament is back, and Youngstown State University is hoping for another strong showing. 

RecycleMania is a competition that takes place over an eight-week period during which colleges and universities compete to increase recycling and raise awareness of its importance.

The tournament allows recycling programs from colleges and universities to promote activities that focus on reducing waste within the campus.

RecycleMania started in 2001 and consisted of only two teams (Miami University and Ohio University). The program now incorporates 538 schools across the nation. This year, 27 Ohio schools are participating.

Participating schools are split into two divisions: the competition division and the benchmark division. 

The competition division requires each campus team to participate, while the benchmark division allows only certain areas of the campus to participate. 

Awards can only be given to schools that are in the competition division, but schools in the benchmark division can still track their progress.

Schools are awarded based on their performance in five primary categories and four targeted material competitions. The categories include Grand Champion, Stephen K. Gaski Per Capita Classic, Waste Minimization and Gorilla Prize. 

The four targeted materials are paper, corrugated cardboard, bottles and cans, and food service organics. New to the tournament this year is the electronics category.

Mark Fiest, a student intern with the recycling program at YSU, said that even though YSU has never won the event, it has done well and prides itself on bringing in more recyclables on a year-to-year basis than Yale University, which has a budget of $1 million. 

“We strive to be better than the programs from Ohio State, Ohio University, as well as the rest of the schools in Ohio, and we consistently reach that goal,” Fiest said.

Fiest said he gives much of the credit to Dan Kuzma, manager of YSU’s recycling program. 

“[Kuzma] does a great job of finding and applying for grants, the most recent one being a new earth tub,” Fiest said. 

The tub will be used to increase composting effort, giving YSU an edge in that category over the University of Akron, Kent State University and the University of Toledo, he said. 

No special bins will be put out for the competition, but Fiest said students are participating by recycling on campus every day. 

“With 20 to 40 bins in every building on campus, and a number of bins on sidewalks and on the campus core, it is very easy to pass the trash can and walk just a few more feet to do something good for the environment,” Fiest said.

He added that the recycling program has attempted to make recycling as easy as possible for students. 

“We try to put a recycle bin next to every garbage can, and during the tailgate season, we put twice as many recycle bins as garbage cans in the lots for the beer and soda cans,” Fiest said. 

The competition is set to kick off on Sunday and run through Mar 31.