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RecycleManiaKNOXVILLE—Today is the first day of RecycleMania at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. What have you recycled today?

RecycleMania is a friendly eight-week competition between universities across the country to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities.

Categories of the competition include per capita recycling, overall recycling rate as a percentage of total waste, minimization of trash, and recycling generated.

Competing universities report the amount of recyclables and trash collected weekly. These weekly results are published online so schools can monitor their progress and keep the competition fierce. The overall winning university will receive national press coverage and a trophy made from recycled materials.

In 2011, 630 schools in Canada and the United States competed. From those schools, 7.5 million faculty, staff, and students succeeded in recovering 91 million pounds of recyclables.

This year 540 schools have registered to compete.

Last year, UT finished third in the Southeastern Conference for per capita recycling. Jay Price, UT’s environmental coordinator, wants UT to finish first this time around.

“RecycleMania is a great way for UT to benchmark our recycling efforts with other universities nationwide,” Price said. “Our goal this year to place first in the SEC will require us to recycle a little more than 1.5 pounds per person, per week. With some extra effort from everyone on campus, I know we can do it.”

Over the next two months the campus community can look forward to a variety of fun, recycling-themed events. Here is a rundown of upcoming events:

Spotted Being Sustainable
February 6–10

All this week, UT Recycling staff and volunteers will be giving away coupons to people spotted recycling, carrying a reusable mug or water bottle, or performing other sustainable acts.

“Spotted Being Sustainable” (SBS) coupons are valid for a free beverage provided by Volunteer Dining. SBS is held in part to promote the Mug Project, an ongoing sustainability program to eliminate paper cup use on campus. The Mug Project was initiated by Volunteer Dining and UT Recycling. Since the project began in August 2011, more than 20,000 paper cups have been diverted from area landfills.

Residence Hall Recycling Competition
February 13–March 9

The third annual Residence Hall Recycling Competition (RHRC) is a month-long competition between campus residence halls to determine which hall can recycle the most pounds per resident.

Student residents are asked to collect unwanted plastics, aluminum, paper, and glass in recycling bins placed in every residence hall. Cardboard is also collected in specially marked bins located outside each residence hall.

Similar to the POWER Challenge, a comprehensive sustainability competition held each October, the RHRC will award points to residence halls that establish creative and fun programs for students. Interested student residents are encouraged to contact their RA with any program ideas or to obtain more information on the competition.

To kick off the RHRC, a Recycling Dorm Storm event will be held from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on February 15 and 16. On those nights, Recyclemaniacs will storm the dorms, collecting all recyclable materials.

Residents are invited to bring their recyclables to the lobby to get some free snacks and refreshments.

Following the completion of the RHRC on March 9, the winning hall will receive a catered party and the coveted Recycling Animal Trophy.

Landfill and Recycling Tour
March 5, noon to 4:00 p.m.

Have you ever wanted to know where all your trash and recyclables end up? Faculty, staff, and students are invited to jump on the Make Orange Green bus and join UT Recycling for a tour of the Chestnut Ridge Landfill and Rock-Tenn Recycling Center.

The bus leaves from outside the Hodges Library second-floor entrance at noon and will return at 4:00 p.m. The tour is a free event, but interested people must reserve a seat on the bus in advance. To reserve your seat, visit the RecycleMania website.

March 14, 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Possibly the most fun day of RecycleMania is the day when athletic prowess and frenzied recycling culminates in what is known as Recyclympics. The third annual Recyclympics will be held at the Humanities Plaza outdoor amphitheater.

Faculty, staff, and students compete in ten Olympic-style, recycling-themed events. Crowd-pleasing favorites include the Phone Book Shot Put, Compact Disc-us Throw, and Bottle Cap-in-a-Haystack (of shredded paper).

Contestants can compete individually or as part of a team of up to four people. Recyclympics is free to enter. Those interested in participating in this fun and friendly competition can sign up at the Recyclympics website or just show up on the day.

Glory, fame, and gift certificate prizes will be awarded to Recyclympians who place first, second, and third in the individual and team categories. Additional bonus points will be awarded for competitive bravery and recycling tenacity.

“Gladiator apparel is encouraged, but there are no specific dress code requirements to enter and compete in Recyclympics. High heels or baggy jeans might not be the best clothing to compete in though,” said Price.

Paper Purge Party
March 19–23, all-day event

Who doesn’t love spring cleaning? During spring break, UT Recycling will canvas each office in every campus building in an attempt to hunt and capture as much recyclable paper as possible.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to purge their offices of any and all unwanted bulky paper items.

View a schedule of each building’s collection day here (pdf).  Accepted items include non-confidential office paper, envelopes, phonebooks, magazines, publications, tests, bound notebooks, and manuals—even paper with tape and staples on it.

Zero Waste Lunches
March 26, 28, and 30, from 11:00 to 2:00p.m. daily

Zero Waste Lunches will be held during the last week of the challenge at Morrill Dining, Arena Dining, and PCB Café.

During these waste-not-want-not lunches, UT Dining employees and volunteers will work together to compost 100 percent of leftover lunch food from these dining locations.

Employees will save waste created during food preparation, and volunteers will scrape leftover food waste from plates into compost bins. The food waste will be taken to the UT Recycling compost site adjacent to the UT Medical Center, where it will be turned into nutrient-rich soil for the UT Organic Farm.

For more information on the 2012 RecycleMania competition, visit To learn more about UT Recycling’s efforts, or to volunteer with RecycleMania, visit the website or email

Contact: Jay Price (974-3480,