The RecycleMania 2017 results are in, and we're pleased to report great scores in several categories. RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for colleges and universities to promote waste reduction in their campus communities. Over an 8-week period, colleges report the amount of recycling and trash collected each week and are ranked in categories such as who recycles the most, which schools have the best recycling rate and which schools generate the least amount of combined trash and recycling. This year's competition period began February 5th and ended April 1st.
The Diversion category combines trash and each of the core recyclable materials, plus food organics to determine a school's recycling rate as a percentage of its overall waste generation. With a 54.057% recycling rate, Wells ranked #36 nationally out of 190 participating schools, and came in at #1 in New York State. This was a 70% increase over our 2016 recycling rate of 31.80%, which was itself a 35.7% increase over our first-year diversion rate of 23.44% in 2015, the semester after integrating our comprehensive campus recycling program.
In the Per Capita category, schools compete to see which can collect the largest combined amount of paper, cardboard and bottles and cans on a per person basis. Wells came up in these standings, ranking #86 out of 244 participating schools, and #9 in New York State. At 12.67 pounds of recyclables per person, our per capita rate changed only slightly from 2016 (12.654 pounds per person).
In the Waste Minimization category, schools compete to see which produces the least amount of recyclables, food organics, and trash on a per person basis. Where other categories recognize school efforts to collect the recyclables generated on campus, this competition focuses on their efforts to reduce the amount of waste generated, including recyclables. In this category, more is not better. Wells ranked #100 out of 135 participating schools, posting a total of 57.797 pounds per person; #7 within New York State schools. This is actually a substantial increase over 2016's 39.783 pounds per person, mostly attributable to our reporting food waste organics for the first time.
In the Total Recycling category, those that collect the most total pounds of recyclables score the best. Due mostly to the size of our campus, Wells is #188 out of 214 schools participating in this category – we reported 21,433 pounds of recyclables collected during the RecycleMania period. This is somewhat due to the increase in our recycling efforts this year but mostly because food waste organics factors into this figure, which we reported for the first time this year. So our total recycling pounds soared by 147% over 2016 (8,693 pounds).
We competed in the Targeted Materials category of Food Service Organics for the first time, since starting our dining hall compost collection program last October. Results are calculated to recognize schools recycling the largest amount of the targeted material on a per capita basis. Out of 134 schools, we scored #10 nationally and #2 in New York State. We diverted 18.571 pounds per person to compost collection.
Wells participated for the first time in the E-CycleMania electronics recycling competition, a special category that tracks the amount of computers, printers, consumer electronics and other scrap or refurbishable eligible materials collected across campus. This category is based on a one time tally for all materials collected over a one month-long period during the February and March competition window. Only 39 schools competed in this new category; Wells came in #9 with 968 pounds and ranked #2 among New York State schools.
While we welcome public recognition of our recycling efforts, RecycleMania is more useful to us in that it brings added focus to the importance and value of recycling and waste reduction. It provides a useful snapshot of our progress. Wells' successful showing this year is a real tribute to several campus departments – Facilities, Wells Dining, and Information Technology – who have established and maintained great recycling infrastructure systems in which our whole campus community has rallied to support. We expect our Wells community to keep pitchin' in – into the right bin, that is!
Thank you to the Center for Sustainability and the Environment for encouraging environmental responsibility on campus and for tracking our Recyclemania participation.