The Zero Waste category is for campuses with advanced waste reduction programs, zero waste plans and policies in place, and the ability to weigh sources of MSW-related waste, and materials collected for reuse. Accurate weights are desired; volume-to-weight estimates are acceptable. Documentation may be requested during review of final results.
News for 2022 Competition! The Waste Audit requirement for this category will be waived for the upcoming competition.
The Zero Waste main competition category is designed to help schools focus on waste reduction and zero waste efforts campus-wide and compare their results to other campuses. During this competition participating schools will track all sources of their waste generation in three campuses buildings during the eight-week competition period during February and March.
Offer alternative RecycleMania benchmarking opportunities based on a more comprehensive view of the waste stream and using higher measurement standards.
Opportunity for schools to test or showcase new waste reduction initiatives or education / outreach efforts, and in the process “prove the concept” that can serve as model for rest of campus to follow.
Schools track waste generation in three campus buildings; Schools will choose three buildings from the following list of building types (choose only one of each type):
- Student Centered (Recreation, Union, Dining)
Weigh all sources of MSW (municipal solid waste)-related waste disposed during the eight competition period, including: trash, recycling, organics and materials collected for reuse. All trash and recovered materials should be tracked by actual weight. Volume-to-weight estimates are acceptable; documentation may be requested during review of final results. Review EPA's definition of MSW.
If there is another type of waste that campuses dispose of as MSW please include that in your reporting.
If you are unable to get exact weights for “materials for reuse” unit-to-weight conversions are allowed; documentation may be requested during review of final results. The U.S. Department of Defense Customer Moving Portal is a great resource to help determine weight of materials.
Construction and demolition, hazardous, medical or other waste materials not typically disposed as MSW should be excluded.
Complete at least one building waste audit during the eight week competition period. Campuses will also be required to share photos of waste from other participating buildings - photos of loose, unbagged trash, recyclables and food organics taken on different days during the competition. Photos will be requested during review of final results.
Schools are not required to use a specific audit methodology, however, the data reported should be based on the following:
Sampling of all sources of MSW waste material discarded throughout the entire building during the same time period within the designated eight-week window.
Include weight-based quantities for:
- Recyclables, organics, other recoverable materials properly discarded in recycling / composting bins or otherwise “recovered”.
- Trash or other contaminant materials improperly discarded in recycling or composting bins.
- Recyclables, organics, other recoverable materials improperly disposed in trash bins.
- Non-recoverable trash items properly disposed in trash bins.
There are several waste audit templates available:
> Post-Landfill Action Network -Waste Audit Manual
> Rubicon Global – Waste Audit Guide
> Busch Systems – Conducting a Recycling and Waste Audit
> Check out Union College waste audit video; Union College was the top ranking campus > "Race to Zero Waste" for RecycleMania 2019.
> University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Waste Audits.
> Washington University St. Louis Waste Audits
Schools will receive additional points for waste minimization, both source reduction and recycling, events and activities according to the following system:
Campus policies specifying the purchase of goods with minimal packaging, recycled content and recyclable packaging, or goods made from post-consumer recycled materials; good purchasing practices can also be counted. ( .5 points per policy)
Campus policies banning the use of items such as plastic straws, plastic water bottles, plastic bags, etc.; active practices to ban single-use plastic items can also be counted. (.3 points per policy)
Activities such as move-out to resell or donations efforts, fix-it fairs, dorm composting, distribution of reusable items for students, faculty, staff, etc. (.2 points per activity)
Education campaigns on waste reduction and responsible recycling to reduce contamination (.15 points per educational effort)
During final reporting, schools will report on which activities they implemented and will also have the opportunity to write in additional activities that may fall outside the four options listed above. 5 points total can be earned for waste minimization activities.
Scoring: A+B+C+D Points for waste minimization = Total Score
An official ranking of three national winners will be based on the following calculation: Lowest total waste generation per 1,000 sq. ft. of usable space (trash + recycling, organics, reusables) for the eight week competition period; Plus waste minimization activity points. Three winners will be recognized in this category based on the Carnegie Classification for 1) Small/Very Small, 2) Medium, and 3) Large/Very Large.