University of Calgary

RecycleMania results are in!

UToday HomeApril 24, 2013

By Amy Glassman

SustainabilityON co-ordinator Jurgen Gailer from the Department of Chemistry stands beside the winning photocopier 5735.SustainabilityON co-ordinator Jurgen Gailer from the Department of Chemistry stands beside the winning photocopier 5735. Photo by Elise HetuThe RecycleMania Tournament wrapped up on March 31 and the results of the eight-week competition to reduce garbage and collect the most recyclables and organics are in.

Through campus-wide efforts, the University of Calgary was able to reduce its footprint by 297 metric tonnes of carbon emissions. According to, that is the same amount of CO2 generated during the same time period by powering 26 single family homes and equal to taking 58 cars off the road.

Prior to the challenge, baselines were measured in five different categories. The university achieved an increase in overall proportion of materials recycled and composted instead of landfilled, and a decrease in overall waste produced.

From greatest to least change, here is how we did in each of the following categories from our initial baseline.

Category Baseline Final result Change
Bottles and Cans 669.00 kg 575.22 kg 14.02% decrease
Organics 2,625.63 kg 2,804.24 kg 6.80% increase
Waste 29,402.50 kg 29,190.88 kg 0.72% decrease
Overall recycling 6,890.00 kg 7,535.00 kg 9.36% increase

Other competitions that took place over the course of RecycleMania included the Photocopier Challenge and Clean Bin Challenge.  

During the Photocopier Challenge, SustainabilityON co-ordinators led their departments to see who could reduce paper use associated with printing the most. Baselines were calculated for each of the 66 participating machines and pages printed were tracked weekly.

Congratulations to the Department of Chemistry, led by SustainabilityON co-ordinator Jurgen Gailer, for saving 589 sheets of paper and achieving a winning weekly reduction of 28.5%. They are this year’s winners of the Photocopier Challenge and green office supplies package. 

Sustainability Street Team members Bingying Xie (left) and Tendol Nepali were part of a team of volunteersSustainability Street Team members Bingying Xie (left) and Tendol Nepali were part of a team of volunteers who spent four weeks educating students in the Dining Centre on sustainable purchasing and ethical food options during the RecycleMania Tournament. Photo by Amy GlassmanGailer believes that simply displaying the number of sheets used each week directly on the printer — with a happy or sad emoticon indicating how the photocopier was doing against its baseline — was enough to get people thinking twice before hitting print.

Coming in second place, the Faculty of Medicine achieved a 25.5 % reduction under the guidance of SustainabilityON co-ordinator Charlotte Breakey, while Facilities Management and Development came in third under co-ordinator Paddy Campbell with a 23.8% reduction.

As for the Clean Bin Challenge, March 27 marked the conclusion of the month-long competition between eight individuals to produce zero garbage. The event took place in the NUTV studio with a screening of the documentary No Impact Manand a weigh-in of the trash accumulated by the contestants.

Biomedical Student Emily Macphail, winner of the challenge, managed to produce a miniscule two grams of garbage, which was mostly made up of a few straws. 

For more stories on how students, staff and faculty are stepping up together to turn SustainabilityON, or to learn how you can become involved, visit


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