InFocus: Recyclemania

At stake is nationwide recognition and a huge trophy (made, of course, from recycled material) for the top recyclers. But the real prize here is the creation of a network of campuses committed to global green efforts. In order to make a strong standing, the whole school must rally together.

This is UCSD’s seventh consecutive year of participation, and the school’s main organizers hope to boost numbers from last year’s showing — 432 tons of recycled waste. UCSD has always occupied a top rung amongst RecycleMania schools in California but still has a long way to climb on the national ladder. Last year, Tritons made their way into the top 100 list of schools, coming in 87th place in the Grand Champion category of the competition, at a recycling rate of about 35 percent (Cal State San Marcos, the first place winner, rang in with a whopping rate of 80 percent recycle rate). However, in the Gorilla Prize category, which measures gross tonnage of combined paper, cardboard, bottles and cans, UCSD scored in fourth place.

Alonso Nobles, assistant superintendent of facilities management and campus waste manager, is working to increase student knowledge of RecycleMania by placing banners and flyers around campus, while collaborating with the residential life offices to publicize to the students.

Though supportive, Nobles said the facilities on campus are not taking the initiative to garner the participation necessary to push UCSD over the edge, and Nobles believes that this campus-wide unawareness is a major obstacle to UCSD’s success. Flyers and stickers advertising the competition have gone largely unnoticed by most students, and residential life hasn’t stressed the importance of student participation.

“I have noticed that other schools saturate their student populations with information about the competition, especially at the athletic events,” Nobles said. “At the Spirit Night rally, they were supposed to mention RecycleMania to the students, but those who attended didn’t hear them say anything. Also, we’ve asked the residential life offices to have the RAs distribute information throughout their areas, but I’m not sure that they’ve publicized it enough.”

Campuswide unawareness is just one of the problems that Nobles is encountering with UCSD in RecycleMania. He also receives many complaints from building managers about the disposal of trash, and how many janitors are not taking into account the difference between recycle bins and trash bins when they’re emptying them. In the dining halls as well as faculty buildings across campus, many workers simply throw everything into one spot in order to save time. Right now, the amount of trash going into recycling bins and vice versa is at 30 percent, and UCSD’s goal is to decrease that number.

The RecycleMania competition is very successful nationwide among other universities, but only when the entire community is involved.

“We need the cooperation from everyone,” Nobles said. “While there is a disconnect between students at UCSD, we want to just let everyone know how easy it is to make a responsible decision.”

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