This semester, Neumann University participated in the Campus Race to Zero Waste recycling program and placed 24th out of 118 participating schools. The program, which fosters friendly competition among colleges, is a tool used to advance campus recycling and waste reduction efforts.
The university kicked off the competition on January 30, and it ended on March 26. The Neumann University Sustainability Advisory Council led the campaign.
This was the first year Neumann participated, joining schools across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The winning school was Loyola Marymount University in Los Angles, California. In Pennsylvania, Gettysburg College was the winner placing sixth overall.
The program's purpose is to help colleges and universities find pathways toward zero waste on campus. The primary goal is to increase awareness. Neumann University participated in the Per Capita category, designed for campuses interested in increasing their recycling rate through education and engagement strategies that can track progress.
In this category, colleges and universities compete for the largest amount of recycled paper, cardboard, bottles, and cans collected on a per person basis. The results are calculated by dividing recycling weight figures by the full-time equivalent student and staff populations of the school.
"The Sustainability Advisory Council, in an effort to educate our campus about proper recycling, decided to participate in the Campus Race to Zero Waste. We selected the Per Capita Category (which is) for campuses interested in focusing on increasing their recycling rate on campus through education and engagement strategies, and that have the ability to track and report on bottles, cans, paper, and cardboard," said Jess Webster, co-chair of the Sustainability Advisory Council.
Students were encouraged to take the “I Recycle Pledge” and commit to better environmental recycling practices. During the competition, Neuman averaged 7,400 pounds of recycled material per week.
According to Webster, the university took this opportunity to compete against other schools to educate students, faculty, and staff on how to recycle on campus properly.
"Our goal was to educate, engage, and bring attention to our recycling efforts on campus. Being our first year participating in this program, we were pleased to rank 23 out of 117. If what comes out of this is that people are more intentional and they have a better understanding of how we recycle, then we win. We look forward to participating in 2023," she said.
Race to Zero Waste was initially called “Recyclemania” when first launched in 2001. It started as a challenge between Ohio University and Miami University. Today the program has a partnership with the National Wildlife Federation. There were 13 colleges and universities from Pennsylvania participating in this year’s competition.