Campus News

RecycleMania Complete; Reducing, Reusing, Recycling Continue

Story posted March 11, 2009

RecycleMania, the nationwide recycling competition in which the College competes for the highest recycling rate, the most recyclables per person, and the least amount of total waste (trash and recycling) generated on campus, has drawn to a close.

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According to Coordinator for a Sustainable Bowdoin Keisha Payson, Bowdoin has substantially improved its ratio of trash to recycling this year over last year.

"While we actually recycled less material during this year's competition, we improved our trash to recycling ratio from 80:20 in 2008 to 72:28 in 2009 — and generated less waste in the process," Payson says.

While there are hundreds of colleges and universities across the country that participate in the 10-week RecycleMania event, as a way to inspire serious competition among the Bowdoin Polar Bears, the College effort again focused on an intense four-week campaign against another participating RecycleMania school, rival Colby College.

This year Colby racked up a score of 12.27 pounds of recycling per person in February, while Bowdoin scored 11.1 pounds of recycling per person.

Payson points to three innovative waste diversion programs now underway at Bowdoin: the Mail Center's new cardboard box reuse effort, the reuse of Dining's waste vegetable oil in the heating plant and Housekeeping's transition from paper towels to rags.

Reduce, reuse and recycle your boxes

Campus Services and the Mail Center staff have come up with a way to reuse cardboard boxes while satisfying a need to provide shipping boxes.

What you can do:


  • Separate boxes (approximately 18"x16"x12" or less)
  • Collapse, label "Mail Center" and place with your outgoing campus mail
  • Please recycle any boxes that are wet or damaged

What the Mail Center will do:


  • Sort by size and store for later use
  • Provide to students, faculty and staff at no charge
  • Retain a small quantity of boxes for purchase to meet demand when recycled boxes are unavailable

What the benefits are:


  • Reduction in the number of new boxes that must be purchased
  • Reduction in the number of boxes that have to be recycled, along with associated costs
  • Source of free boxes
  • Use of existing mail run and staff for collection and sorting reduces costs

Reuse waste vegetable oil

The College has saved money by burning its waste vegetable oil (WVO) and not converting it to biodiesel. "The head of the steam plant suggested he could burn the straight WVO in the plant without bothering with the lye and methanol to convert the WVO into biofuel," says Payson.

"Dining staffers now deliver the WVO on a weekly basis from each of the dining halls, dump it into a hopper that filters out the oil and it goes into the WVO tank."

Payson says the College burns about 1,000 gallons of WVO per year, offsetting the cost of about 800 gallons of #2 heating oil.

Rags replace paper towels

Housekeeping is now using reusable rags for cleaning — saving 26,790 rolls of paper towels per year.

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