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Stony Brook Comes 21st in RecycleMania Competition

The slogan ‘Wolfie says recycle!’ can be found throughout residential halls, campus buildings and pinned onto students during the weeks of Jan. 17 up until March 27.

Those 10 weeks mark the third year in a row that all five campuses of Stony Brook University including, Manhattan, Southhampton, the Research and Development Campus and the Proposed South Korean Campus, are participating in an annual friendly recycling competition, Recycle Mania. Over 600 colleges and universities across the United States and Canada participate by measuring the amount of solid waste each one generates and then recycles.

As of March 24, Stony Brook was ranked 21th out of 346 entrants in the Gorilla Prize category for the highest gross tonnage of recyclables. Although the university has had significant success in separate portions of the competition, its overall rank has been low.
During the same week, the university placed 215th out of 266 colleges in the Grand Champion category, where entrants are ranked for their combined reduction in waste generation and recycling. In that category, Stony Brook’s combined rate is about 17 percent, a whopping 54 percent less than the number one ranked, California State University at San Marco’s.

Stony Brook, with about 30,000 full-time students and faculty members at its main campus, is at a disadvantage because it is much larger than most of its competitors, said Michael Youdelman, the university’s manager of Recycling and Resource Management. Youdelman said Stony Brook’s veterans’ home alone, a 350-bed faculty, accumulates about 40,000 pounds of trash a week on its own.

Though its main purpose is friendly encouragement to recycle, RecycleMania is a competition: The national awards for the high scorers come not only with bragging rights but also highly prized trophies made of recycled glass, said Alec Cooley, a RecycleMania program manager.

In addition, Stony Brook and other participants run in-house contests during the same 10-week period, with the dormitory quads and individual buildings on the West Campus competing against one another for ‘green bucks.’ Resident assistant distribute the game money to students they spot recycling or simply picking up litter; the ‘green bucks’ can be redeemed later an auction of prizes. The top-ranked dorm is awarded an additional $200 to go toward a program that the occupants desire.

The idea is to encourage students to recycle during those 10 weeks in the hopes the behavior will continue the rest of the year, said Marisa Jeffers, quad director and head of the campus competition.

‘It is actually fun competing within the dorms since it is for a good cause,’ said Jack Kui, 20, ‘It is like we have started our own little Recycle Olympics. it will be interesting to see who actually takes the gold.’

RecycleMania started in 2001 as a rivalry between Ohio University and Miami University. Miami won. The competition expanded in its second year to four entrants. RecycleMania continued gaining momentum and popularity, doubling its participants every year. In 2004, its organizers joined the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Waste Wise program and took the contest national.

Today, RecycleMania is independently owned and operated by recycling managers from five participating universities that comprise the steering committee. This year’s competition will be operating by the Keep America Beautiful association as well.’ RecycleMania’s corporate sponsors include the Keep America Beautiful association and representatives of some major producers of solid waste, the Coca Cola Company and the American Forest and Paper Association.

With the help of Recycle Mania, Stony Brook University is making better efforts to decrease waste accumulation by reusing office furniture and supplies, buying products with recycled content and also continuing to expand recycling, according to the Central Services Department.

‘It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone needs clean air and water, recycling helps maintain that need,’ Youdelman said.

The co-president of the Environmental Club, Greg Smith, said the club had no role in the competition but admired the schools participation in it.

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