RecycleMania 2020 results

Though cut short, Miami and 300 other schools saved 48.6 million pounds from the landfill

By Susan Meikle, university news and communications


Volunteers from the Green Team, EcoReps, Zero Waste Oxford and IES helped with the Game Day trash and recycling audit (photo by Scott Kissell).

Miami University was one of nearly 300 schools nationwide that participated in the RecycleMania 2020 competition, helping to recycle, donate or compost more than 48 million pounds of waste during the tournament.

The eight-week tournament was cut short this year — its 20th anniversary — due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the National Wildlife Federation, which manages RecycleMania.

During the competition from Feb. 2 - March 7, participating colleges and universities:

  • Recycled, composted and donated 48.6 million pounds of waste.
  • Avoided using more than 380 million single-use plastic bottles.
  • Prevented the release of 70,875 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent(MTCO2e) into the atmosphere (this is equivalent to avoiding about 65% of Miami’s 2018 institutional carbon footprint of 108,724 MTCO2e).

Cecil Okotah, Miami’s recycling coordinator and a master’s student in environmental science, said that one of the main goals for Miami in this year's competition “was to raise awareness and increase participation after our prolonged break from the contest.”

“Results will serve as a baseline for our sustainability office as we channel efforts to areas needed to improve waste management here at Miami,” he said.

Miami's RecycleMania 2020 results


Swoop cheers as (left to right) Cecil Okotah, Dante Rossi and Renate Crawford win the "Recycle This, Not That" contest during the Game Day halftime (photo by Susan Meikle).

Miami participated in three competition categories:

Per Capita Classic, based on cumulative pounds recycled per capita of 22,640 student and staff:

  • 74th of 190 schools overall, with 8.07 cumulative pounds recycled per capita.
  • 16th  of 36 schools based on Carnegie classification (four-year, large, primarily residential).

Game Day Basketball, based on diversion rate of recyclables from trash during one home basketball game:

  • 20th of 29 schools with 34.35% of recyclables diverted from waste during the March 6 men's basketball game vs. Ohio University.

Race to Zero Waste, based on reducing waste as much as possible in one specific building:

Adam Sizemore, Miami's director of sustainability, said this was Miami’s first time participating in the Race to Zero Waste category. Waste is tracked in one or several buildings on campus, aiming for the lowest generation of pounds of waste per building square foot.

Miami was the only school to participate in this category with a residence hall building type. Two other schools participated with classroom/office building types. 

Students in Hamilton, Minnich, Richard and Scott Halls competed to reduce their waste as much as possible during the three weeks of the contest. The student organization Zero Waste Oxford held a clothing swap for residents to raise awareness of the competition.

  • Collectively, the four residential halls donated over 350 pounds of clothing.
  • Overall, the four buildings generated 2,897 pounds of recycling, food scraps and items recovered for reuse/donation, and 4,720 pounds of landfill waste, resulting in 113 pounds of waste generation per square foot.

Participating in the national RecycleMania competition afforded us the opportunity to engage the entire campus population and raise awareness around best practices of waste management and zero waste efforts," Sizemore said.  "Miami will continue to participate in RecycleMania and increase programming around the competition."

New name next year: Campus Race to Zero Waste 

Transcript available.

In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the competition is changing its name to Campus Race to Zero Waste.

The new name better reflects and reinforces the purpose of the program – to help colleges and universities find pathways toward zero waste on campus, according to the organizers.

RecycleMania began as a recycling competition between Miami and Ohio universities in 2001. It is now the nation’s premier waste reduction and recycling competition among colleges and universities, managed by the National Wildlife Federation and governed by RecycleMania Inc.

Recycling while #SafeatHomeOhio

While most of campus staff and faculty are still working remotely, Sizemore encourages recycling at home, and all year around once back on campus.

Watch our short video (at left) to review how to recycle at Miami and other areas served by Rumpke Waste and Recycling.