University News

Recyclemania at Western

February 23, 2018

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MACOMB, IL -- Did you know:*

• Five recycled plastic bottles (PET) provide enough fiber to create one-square-foot of carpet, or enough fiber fill to fill one ski jacket.

• Every three months, Americans throw enough aluminum in the landfills to build our nation's entire commercial air fleet.

• Recycling a stack of newspapers, just three feet high, saves one tree.

Join the recycling revolution at Western Illinois University, who is, for the 11th consecutive year, participating in RecycleMania, a competition between colleges and universities across the nation. This year's competition, which kicked off Jan. 21, runs through March 31. Last year, WIU diverted 79,400 pounds of recyclable materials and 4,040 pounds of organic/food scrap waste was composted during the eight-week competition.

The goal of RecycleMania is to raise awareness of the importance of recycling, according to Gordon Rands, co-chair of the WIU Sustainability Committee. More than 320 colleges and universities participated in the 2017 event, resulting in 69.9 million pounds of total recycling and food waste diverted from the landfill.

During the contest, schools report recycling and trash data, and then are ranked according to which institution collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita or has the highest recycling rate. With each week's reports and rankings, participating schools watch how their results fluctuate against other schools and use this to rally their campus communities to reduce and recycle more.

"The RecycleMania competition gives us an idea of how well we are at diverting items from the landfill and also gives us insight on how we can improve," said Neal Thurman, superintendent of Building Services and a member of the Sustainability Committee "We'd also like to thank Waste Management for adjusting their schedule during the competition so we can get accurate collection data." 

At WIU, anything recyclable can be placed in the blue bins throughout campus because the University has a mixed recycling system. All paper products, corrugated cardboard and paperboard/chipboard, plastics (numbers 1-7, except Styrofoam), aluminum and tin can be placed in the blue bins. In addition to the blue bins that collect daily recyclables, Western also recycles numerous items, including wood pallets, light bulbs and construction materials. Batteries are also recycled, and each building representative has a battery recycling bin in his/her office. 

Each week during RecycleMania, staff from Western's Facilities Management will collect and record the amount of recyclables from each building on campus. Schools can then check their standings online.

RecycleMania began in February 2001, when Ed Newman from Ohio University and Stacy Edmonds Wheeler from Miami University decided something had to be done to increase recycling in the residence and dining halls on their campuses. During the inaugural 10-week competition, Miami University and Ohio University battled to see which school could recycle the most. Western has participated in RecycleMania since 2006.

To learn even more about environmentalism and sustainability, visit and click on "Recycling at Western." For more about RecycleMania, visit

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Posted By: WIU News (
Office of University Relations