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RecycleMania!

Most students know some recycling is happening on campus and see signs of recycling in dining halls and in their dorms. But do students actually know how recycling efforts at Harvard compare with other universities, and do they know how the business school is performing in terms of recycling?

From January 29 to April 8, Harvard University will be one of many taking part in RecycleMania, a nation-wide competition that aims to increase awareness of and participation in recycling.

For more than 10 years, a number of universities across the United States, including Harvard, have successfully operated waste management and recycling programs. Despite their recycling successes, certain on-campus facilities tend to produce most of the campus waste. In particular, residence halls and dinning halls have been the largest producers-from 30 to 70 percent of campus trash.

RecycleMania began as an effort to recycle more waste from campus residential areas and partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise program to enhance the competition in 2004. Last year, 47 schools participated in the two competitions, which focused on per capita recycling and recycling rate.

Over a 10-week period, schools compete in different contests to see which institution can collect the largest amount of recyclables, the least amount of trash, and have the highest recycling rate. All participating schools are required to report measurements on a weekly basis in pounds. The university that recycles the most wins. The main goal of this event is to increase student awareness of campus recycling and waste minimization. In the end, the event demonstrates that all participating universities have made achievements in recycling and waste reduction.

Last year, Harvard University ranked eighth in per capita recycling at 40.82 pounds of trash recycled per capita and 15th at a recycling rate of 25.43 percent. (Recycling rate is calculated by dividing the weight of recyclables by the total weight of recyclables and trash.) Compared with the national recycling rate of 28%, Harvard University has a way to go.

Last year, the winner was Miami University with 66.19 pounds of trash recycled per capita and a recycling rate of 40 percent. Miami University has a consistently strong recycling rate and has won the RecycleMania competition the past three years.

Closer to home, the HBS dorm recycling rate is close to 40 percent, which is actually much higher than Harvard University’s overall rate. However, the HBS apartment residences do not stack up to the dorms. Based on a waste audit conducted last October, close to 50 percent of the trash thrown out by residents living in Soldiers Field Park and One Western apartments could be recycled or reused! Although HBS does behind-the-scenes composting and recycles cans/bottles in the dish room, there are still several steps that students can take to improve recycling efforts.

Results from the competition will be available later in the year, but regardless of where Harvard ranks, it is clear that everyone can easily help improve recycling efforts. For further information on recycling and frequently asked questions, visit: //www.uos.harvard.edu/information/dep_fac_sol_faq.shtml

Here’s a Quick Reminder About What Can Be Recycled:

 Paper:
All paper and cardboard, except plastic-wrapped paper, greasy-food papers, tissues, napkins, paper cups and plates and carbon paper.

 Cans and bottles:
All cans, bottles, jugs and jars made of glass, metal, or plastic (as long as the latter have a recycling symbol, with any number inside).

 Detergent bottles:
SFP/OWA residents can recycle detergent bottles directly in the laundry room where a specific box has been installed. Dorm residents should use the can and bottle-recycling bins.

 Batteries:
SFP/OWA residents can bring these to the Management Office in SFP 2, while dorm residents have a container in their lounges.

 Ink-jet cartridges and cell phones:
SFP/OWA residents can use plastic, prepaid envelopes that are available on the bulletin board in the laundry room or in their entryway, while dorm residents can pick these up from the mailroom. (Please send your laser-printer cartridges back to the manufacturer in the packaging provided.)

 Computers, monitors, televisions and other miscellaneous electronics:
SFP/OWA residents can leave these in front of the door to the right of the parking garage recycling station (across from SFP 2), while dorm residents can contact custodial services: 617-495-6814.

March 1, 2006
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