During a two-month period earlier this year, the university recycled an average of 5 tons a day of paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, glass and aluminum and metal cans, besting nine other Florida universities in the 2013 RecycleMania competition.
College and universities across the United States and Canada participated in the eight-week competition, in which schools are ranked according to how much recycling, trash and food waste they collect. Five hundred twenty-three colleges and universities collectively recovered 90.3 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials, preventing the release of nearly 121,436 metric tons to carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere.
FIU has placed second among Florida universities the past two years, but upped its game for this year’s competition, recycling a total of 628,312 pounds during a two-month between Feb. 3 and March 30. That figure was good enough to earn the university the top spot among Florida schools and the No. 13 spot nationally in the Gorilla Category for most pounds recycled.
“How did we take the top spot,” asked Carrie Kashar, assistant director in the Office of University Sustainability. “It’s as simple as one word, collaboration.”
The office received a $15,000 recycling grant from Alcoa through Keep America Beautiful. Last fall, the office handed out recycling bins to Housing residents. “Housing Facilities really stepped up and helped as well, adding recycling containers to University Apartments and clearly marking the recycling containers with signage and easily recognizable yellow lids.” Kashar says in Housing alone, the pickups this semester have doubled.
Other key players in the effort include the FIU Library (“They consistently bring in big recycling numbers,” says Kashar) and the Starbucks in the library. Panther Dining was able to report their cardboard recycling tonnage, which helped propel FIU past the University of Florida in the last week of competition.
“A lot of the work for RecycleMania this year was behind the scenes,” says Kashar, who has been with the office since she arrived at FIU in 2010. “Next year we’re hoping more student organizations will get involved to help us keep the top spot.”
Complete results for all categories can be found on the RecycleMania website, including a breakout that shows how schools performed by athletic conference, institution size, state and other groupings.