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by Dawn Quirk

At last long last the final results for RecycleMania 2009 are in. How did we fare? Tufts ranked 38th in the Grand Champion division, 18th in the Per Capita Classic, and 26th in the Gorilla Prize category. Out of Massachusetts states we finished 4th out of 12, eeking out a final week standings jump over Berkshire Community College and quelling a late surge by Suffolk University. Both finished within 0.15% of Tufts’ recycling rate. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering with their mysterious trash eating beast vaulted into first place in the state, followed by Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and Boston College respectively. Tufts also finished second in the state to Franklin W. Olin in the Per Capita Classic.


So what does this jumble of numbers tell us? In general, that we have one of the better recycling programs in the country. Over 350 schools participated this year and for us to rank in the top 40 in all of the categories says a lot about the commitment of both the student body and our recycling program towards reducing waste on campus.


For a variety of reasons, none of the measures truly says by itself how well a program is doing. Larger universities, for example, may have a low recycling rate but when you look at their total accumulated recyclables they place very high. Small universities with a low residential rate can more easily control their how much waste comes out of their school. Also, schools measure waste differently and at different intervals. This combination of factors makes the rankings in each category a bit murky.


Because of this uncertainty, perhaps Tufts’ biggest achievement of this year’s competition the comparison between our Grand Champion results this year with last year. We improved upon last year’s recycling rate by nearly 5% jumping from just under 34% to over 38.15%. Last year we didn’t have a single week where we recycled 40% of our materials and this year we had two weeks over 45%. Last year we didn’t have a single week where we averaged 4 pounds of recyclables per capita and this year we had 5 such weeks.

Overall, well done, and congratulations to all the schools that participated! A vast number of schools have improved their recycling rate in part through participation in this contest. With more schools competing every year the competition just gets steeper. Let’s keep the habits we formed this year on into the future and regular lives.

Thanks folks! Be well, and recycle strong!