Recycling competition kicks off at UF with an eye on education

Published: Monday, January 26, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 5:28 p.m.

If you want to talk trash, Bailey Kilbourne is your girl.

Kilbourne, a University of Florida junior majoring in environmental science, is the head of UF's Recylemania, a 10-week nationwide competition that promotes environmental friendliness and efficiency.

The campaign, in which almost 500 colleges and universities participate, has just kicked off at UF.

"During the 10 weeks we really want to promote recycling education and waste reduction," Kilbourne said. "But we also want to win."

Participating schools can vie for titles in different categories of Recylemania, including targeted materials such as cardboard or bottles and cans.

This year, UF is seeking out the Gorilla Prize, a category that recognizes the larger schools that recycle the highest gross tonnage of combined paper, cardboard, bottles and cans through the 10 weeks.

Kilbourne said UF finished first among SEC schools last year for Recyclemania.

She said Gators for a Sustainable Campus and UF's Office of Sustainability, where she is an intern, work hand in hand not only in hopes of winning the competition but to educate students on what they can do to help.

"We're doing a recycling IQ game to see how much students know and to teach them what they can recycle on campus," Kilbourne said.

Although numbers were not available on how many pounds of trash UF recycled last year for Recyclemania, the Web site reports that 58.6 million pounds were recycled nationwide for the competition.

According to UF's Physical Plant Division, which weighs the trash coming out of UF, more than 16,000 tons of garbage were generated by the campus in 2008. Of this, about 35 percent was recycled last year.

"But that still leaves about 10,000 tons that went straight to the landfill," Kilbourne said.

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