Penn falls short in RecycleMania competition

The University fell short of its goal of 32 percent recycling, at 26.9 percent

· April 16, 2012, 1:05 am   ·  Updated April 18, 2012, 12:20 am

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For the third year in a row, Penn has fallen short of its recycling goal for the eight-week RecycleMania competition.

On Friday, RecycleMania reported that Penn had an average 26.9-percent weekly recycling rate, which came in lower the overall goal of 32 percent.

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This also marks a decrease from last year’s cumulative recycling rate of nearly 29 percent, which fell short of 2011’s goal of 30 percent.

Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Dan Garofalo described this year’s 32-percent benchmark as a “stretch goal” that the University did not necessarily expect to meet. He said he was not disappointed with the results.

According to Garofalo, Penn’s RecycleMania performance only tells a small part of the overall story. Garofalo said that RecycleMania’s computation of the University’s recycling rate does not include things such as computers and other electronics, which are all recycled by Penn. It also does not include the amount of compost created by the University.

“RecycleMania limits what we can count as recycling,” he said.

Another factor that caused Penn to finish five percentage points below its goal, Garofalo speculated, was a change in the type of materials that are recycled by the Penn community. For example, he explained, glass bottles were once commonly recycled, but now lighter plastic bottles are the norm. This may have influenced results because RecycleMania computes the overall weight of the materials recycled.

“It’s getting harder. There’s less trash every year, and there’s less recycling every year,” he said. “We’re using less resources.”

Overall, Penn recycled 589,800 pounds compared to last year’s 692,434 pounds.

Penn finished in second place among the participating Ivy League schools in the category that measured the amount of trash recycled.

Overall, the University finished 144th out of 266 participating schools in its division.

American University received first place overall with a recycling rate of 85 percent. Though Penn may not have performed as well as it did in previous years, Penn’s student Eco-Reps, who were in charge of RecycleMania in the college houses, remain optimistic.

“We’re doing very well for how young this program is, and especially since we’re such a big campus,” said College freshman Michael Shostek, an Eco-Rep for Fisher Hassenfield College House.

Engineering junior Rachel Liu, the Eco-Rep House Leader of Gregory College House, agreed.

“We didn’t reach our goal, but we always set goals that are higher than we reach,” she said. “We definitely did improve over the course of the program.”

“RecycleMania was a success because more people are becoming more aware of different things going on,” Shostek added. “It helps spread the word not just about recycling, but about other things that are going on.”

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