Valencia Community College could wind up scoring second place for lowest overall waste production per student in RecycleMania, the largest collegiate recycling contest in North America.
Preliminary results for the competition, which ended April 2, show Valencia beat out 176 other schools in this category.
This is the second year Valencia has participated in RecycleMania, a friendly 10-week competition between colleges and universities to see who can reduce, reuse and recycle the most on-campus waste.
“We as a college had an outstanding first year in 2010 being involved with RecycleMania,” said Jerry Cochran, Valencia’s Recycling Coordinator.
Valencia placed fourth in the waste minimization category in the 2010 competition.
Final results for 2011 will be posted Friday, April 15, at www.recyclemaniacs.org.
The waste minimization category recognizes schools that generate the least amount of combined waste and recyclables. All waste produced by the school is weighed and then divided by the number of full-time equivalent students. Using this formula, Valencia had just 3.88 pounds of waste per student at week nine of the contest, while the lowest ranked school had more than 180 pounds per student.
Valencia also stands out as the largest school in the top five for waste minimization. The next largest school has about 7,500 students.
Valencia’s waste management efforts are helping reduce the college’s carbon footprint, according to Cochran. Since he revived the recycling program in 2007, he has kept detailed statistics. To date, recycling at Valencia has saved almost 7,000 trees, 152,000 gallons of oil and more than 150 million kilowatts of energy. Especially vital to drought-prone Florida, water savings add up to almost 2.8 million gallons, according to Cochran.
In addition to the environmental benefits, Cochran says that the recycling program nearly pays for itself every month and has the potential to earn money.
Here’s how it works: Valencia pays the recycling company to pick up and process the recyclables that the college collects. At the same time, the recycling company pays Valencia a percentage of the value of the recyclable materials, based on their weight.
When the recycling program began, the cost per month was about $800. As recycling increased, the costs were offset so that now the average monthly recycling bill is down to $250. As recycling increases over time, the program will be able to earn money for the college.
Valencia is the third largest community college in Florida with four campuses in Orange and Osceola counties.
For information about recycling at Valencia, contact Cochran at 407-582-2208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Note: This news release was prepared by students in the Mass Communications class at Valencia led by Deborah Poulalion.)