Three major institutions for higher learning in Southwestern Indiana are competing again this year to see which school can do the best in engaging their students to recycle on-campus waste.
The University of Southern Indiana, University of Evansville, and Ivy Tech Community College are among more than 500 schools participating in the national RecycleMania competition. To complement the tournament, which receives national sponsorship from the Alcoa Foundation, Alcoa Warrick Operations has challenged the schools in a local contest.
Alcoa Warrick Operations will provide a cash prize of $1,500 to whichever school improves the most in the second half of the challenge. They will be vying against one another in the final half of the eight-week challenge, which concludes March 30. The metrics for the contest are based on each school's per capita recycling rates. In addition to the local grant, the winner in the competition will also get a traveling trophy, created by a local artist from crushed aluminum cans.
Last year, the three schools diverted more than 86,000 pounds of material from area landfills, scoring a sustainable win for the entire community. Also, they scored in the top tier of the challenge for per capita recycling rates and for the quantity of collected material.
The on-campus recycling efforts at the schools are being supplemented by recycling bins provided in previous years by Alcoa Warrick Operations and the Alcoa Foundation.
Alcoa is a recognized leader in sustainability and has set a strategic goal to increase the recycling rate of used aluminum beverage cans to 75 percent by 2015. The RecycleMania competition will let thousands of students know that everyday actions can make a difference.
"Aluminum, unlike many other materials, is infinitely recyclable, and it is the most valuable component in the recycling stream," said Ed Hemmersbach, vice president for Alcoa Global Packaging. "When recycled, a used beverage container can be back on a store's shelf as a new soda can in as little as 60 days."
This is the third year for the local challenge between the local colleges, which started in 2011 with a cross-town rivalry between USI and UE. Ivy Tech Community College joined in the friendly competition last year.
"With the availability of single-stream recycling, our community and our campuses are becoming more sustainable all the time," said USI President Linda L. M. Bennett. "This friendly annual competition encourages all of us to be better stewards of our environment. Whether USI, Ivy Tech, or University of Evansville takes the Aluminum Cup, we all win when we use our resources wisely."
Dan Schenk, the Chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College - Southwest, said the entire college community has been engaged by the RecycleMania challenge.
"Alcoa has been a great partner in this initiative to increase the amount of items we recycle, as well as educate our campus and the community about the importance of recycling."
The University of Evansville President Thomas Kazee said the university's students, faculty and staff look forward to the friendly RecycleMania competition.
"This year's goal of improving in the second half of the challenge is a great motivator," said Kazee. "Regardless of the outcome, however, everyone is a winner. The increased focus on sustainability and recycling benefits the entire Evansville community."
The Alcoa Foundation is a national sponsor of RecycleMania, Inc., which is governed by a steering committee made up of recycling managers from participating universities. Program management for the 2013 RecycleMania Tournament is provided by Keep America Beautiful, the national nonprofit organization.
A complete list of participants and additional information about RecycleMania can be found at http://recyclemaniacs.org.
Photo Credit: University of Southern Indiana
Chelsea Schmidt, assistant vice president for external relations for USI's Student Government Association, speaks at a press conference announcing RecycleMania on March 7.