Princeton University has improved its recycling effort according to the results of this year’s “Recyclemania.” Recyclemania is a recycling competition where many institutions of higher education vie for symbolic honors with very real global implications. Over a 10-week period, campuses compete in different contests to see which institution can collect the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate. Princeton handily exceeded Harvard, Yale, Brown, Penn, and Dartmouth, each of which participated in some or all areas of Recyclemania. Overall, Princeton ranked twenty-fifth out of eighty-eight participating schools.
The Princeton Eco-Reps are key players in this competition: They have promoted Recyclemania on campus via communications and events, and distributed general information about recycling at Princeton throughout the academic year. Founded in 2004 as a student initiative, the Eco-Reps also run recycling and furniture collection drives at the end of each academic year.
Princeton’s success is also due to a multi-year plan which seeks to maximize recycling. Part of that plan was the purchase of 8000 bright blue recycling cans and a general survey of other waste containers on campus. “It really starts with every student and staff member getting the recycling to the container,” said Jon Baer, Director of Building Services. “Last year we sent 1095 tons of mixed paper and 223 tons of bottles and cans to the recycler and kept it out of the waste stream. One aspect of recycling at Princeton that most people don’t see is our food recycling program. We sent 744 tons of food scraps to farms to be used as feed for animals.”