K-State, Texas neck and neck in RecycleMania

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Two students taje out their recycling together outside a residence hall. (File photo by Diamond Sampson | Collegian Media Group)

Colleges and universities across the country are facing off in RecycleMania, a competition to reduce waste and promote recycling. The competition runs from Feb. 2 through March 28.

Kansas State has been ranked No. 1 in the Big 12 for five of the last six years, said Bill Spiegel, supervisor of the KSU Recycling Center and project manager for RecycleMania.

Though the name emphasizes recycling, schools compete in several different categories: diversion, food organics and per capita. Two weeks into the 2020 competition, K-State is ranked 70th out of the schools participating, with a diversion rate of 29.39.

Diversion is determined by the percentage of the total weight of recyclables and food organics diverted from total waste generated by the university.

In the Big 12, the biggest competition for K-State is the University of Texas at Austin, Spiegel said.

For the Big 12 schools, K-State is currently leading Texas in recycling per capita, but trailing in diversion rate. RecycleMania updates the scoreboard weekly, which can be viewed on their website.

Lane Lundeen, junior in fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology, is the director of sustainability for the Student Governing Association, and helps promote recycling around campus.

Lundeen said it would be great to be able to continue to raise K-State’s rank in the diversion rate category.

“Last year we were ranked 54th in diversion rate, it would be really nice to get above 50… maybe even 40,” Lundeen said. “ When we first started out, we were somewhere in the 200s — and look at us now, we’re one of the top schools.”

Spiegel said that his goal is to get more student involvement.

“That’s what I’m hired to do, try to reduce the things going into the landfill, and that’s what we try to do,” he said. “Can I make everybody recycle? No… But overall, do we do great? Yes, because our numbers have always gone up and our trash goes down.”

To participate in RecycleMania, take recyclable items (plastics No. 1 through 7, all paper products and aluminum/tin cans) to any of the blue one-stop-drop bins on university grounds, or the recycling containers at the K-State Recycling Center behind Weber Hall. Glass and cardboard can also be recycled, but must be deposited at the recycling center in specified bins.

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My name is Rebecca Vrbas. I’m the culture editor at the Collegian and a junior in journalism and mass communications. My hobbies include obsessing over an ever-expanding pool of musicals and cats (not the musical). I love writing because of the infinite intricacy of language, as well as its power to cultivate a sense of community through sharing experiences.