Valencia Cleans Up in RecycleMania

Monday, April 16, 2012

At Valencia, we’re not trashy.

In fact, the college doesn’t throw away much trash — at least not for a place with more  than 60,000 students.  We’re so lean and green that Valencia won a first-place prize in this year’s RecycleMania competition.

The competition, which extended from Feb. 5 through March 31, included eight categories. The colleges and universities that took home top prizes in the three primary categories were:

  • “Grand Champion” (determined by the percentage of overall waste recycled): American University- (85.16 percent) – Washington, D.C.
  • “Per Capita Classic” (determined by total pounds of recyclables collected per person): Union College- (61.79 lbs.) – Schenectady, N.Y.
  • “Waste Minimization” (determined by the lowest overall amount of recyclables and trash per person): Valencia College – (2.75 lbs.) – Orlando, Fla.

In the waste minimization category, schools compete to see which produces the least amount of both recyclables and trash on a per person basis. To encourage employees to reduce waste, Valencia has urged employees to make double-sided copies when using a copier, or to send emails, rather than making copies of documents to share. Likewise, the college recycles cardboard boxes in which textbooks and paper are shipped. The college also has begun installing water fountains where students and employees can refill water containers, rather than purchasing disposable bottles of water.

During the eight-week competition, Valencia processed 44,085 pounds of recyclables. The amount of  greenhouse gases reduced by Valencia during the contest was the equivalent of pulling 18 cars off the road during that time.

This is the third year that Valencia has competed in RecycleMania. In 2010, Valencia finished in fourth place in the waste minimization category. Last year, Valencia took second place in that category.   But this year, the college won first place.

And that, said recycling coordinator Jerry Cochran, feels good.

“Second place isn’t bad, but it’s nothing like first,” said Cochran, who has led Valencia’s recycling efforts since 2007.

RecycleMania began in January 2001 as a challenge between Ohio University and Miami University of Ohio, when the two recycling coordinators at the schools were looking for a way to motive their student bodies to recycling more. This year, 92 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials were recovered, which prevented the release of nearly 150,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E). This reduction in greenhouse gases is equivalent to the annual emissions from more than 25,840 passenger cars; electricity use of more than nearly 16,406 homes; or the burning of nearly 705 railcars’ worth of coal. Equally impressive, the average recycling rate for participating schools increased from 27.61 percent to 28.49 percent over the course of the tournament.

Valencia implemented recycling and waste reduction programs to help reduce the college’s carbon footprint. In 2009, Valencia President Sandy Shugart signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), a high-visibility effort to address global climate disruption. More than 600 colleges and universities have made institutional commitments to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations.

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