Cornell's Annual Waste Reduction Competition


RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Over an 8-week period each spring, colleges across the United States and Canada report the amount of recycling and trash collected each week and are in turn ranked in various categories based on who recycles the most on a per capita basis, as well as which schools have the best recycling rate as a percentage of total waste and which schools generate the least amount of combined trash and recycling. With each week’s updated ranking, participating schools follow their performance against other colleges and use the results to rally their campus to reduce and recycle more.

National recognition is provided to the winning school in each category on the RecycleMania website and in a national press release. Winning schools receive an award made out of recyclable materials, and win the right to host that category’s special traveling trophy for the coming year.

Overall Goals for RecycleMania

  1. Motivate students and staff to increase recycling efforts and reduce waste generation.
  2. Generate attention and support for campus recycling programs.
  3. Encourage colleges to measure and benchmark recycling activity in their effort to improve their programs over time.
  4. Have a fair and friendly competition.

Cornell-specific goals for RecycleMania:
During the nationwide RecycleMania Competition (February 5th – April 1st), join the entire Cornell community – faculty, staff, and students – in (re)learning how to reduce personal waste and improve our waste sorting skills (trash, recycling, compost). Our collective goals are waste minimization and waste diversion.

Waste is any object or substance which the institution discards, intends to discard, or is required to discard. Most campus waste is distributed into landfill (trash), recycling, and compost.

Waste Minimization is a process of reducing overall waste over time, including all landfill, recyclables, and compostable materials. This involves redesigning products and/or changing societal patterns concerning consumption and production to prevent the creation of waste.

Waste Diversion is a process of sorting any solid waste that was destined for disposal in municipal waste landfill or incinerator by diverting via recycling, composting, donating, re-selling, or reusing.

Did you know? Over one million disposable cups are used on Cornell’s campus each year. Try bringing a reusable mug (and utensils and containers) when you eat on campus!

Get Involved: Contact the Campus Sustainability Office at to learn more!