COLUMBIA — Alicia LaVaute has been emailing MU department heads to ask for their garbage.
LaVaute, an administrative assistant for the MU Sustainability Office, is spearheading the university's efforts in RecycleMania, an eight-week competition among more than 500 universities to recycle the highest percentage of their waste.
This is MU's seventh year competeing in RecycleMania. In 2013, MU ranked 173 out of 523 schools with a total recycling percentage of 24. MU ranked 20th in the "Gorilla" category, which measures the sheer weight of recycled material.
Last year's Grand Champion was MU's sister school University of Missouri-Kansas City with an 86 percent recycling rate.
More students are volunteering to haul compost to MU's Bradford Research and Extension Center this year, LaVaute said, and she hopes that will tip the scales in favor of MU.
"Last year we composted 2,000 pounds and this year we will be up to 8,400 pounds," LaVaute said.
LaVaute said she thinks MU's recycling rate is average, but it could be better if students knew what materials they can recycle and where they can recycle them.
"I don't know if there needs to be better education in place or why people would put a soda can in the trash when a recycling bin is right next to it," LaVaute said. "When you recycle a can it can be back on the shelf within 60 days in some other form."
Students can see updated rankings of their school's performance in each category at the RecycleMania website.
The winning school receives a gift made out of recyclable materials and the rights to host that category's traveling trophy for that year.
The Sustainability Office will have a table in the Student Center every week until the end of the competition on March 29, except for spring break. The Sustainability Office will give away water bottles and other merchandise to promote the contest.
Students can recycle paper, cardboard, aluminum, plastics No. 1 and No. 2, steel and glass in recycling bins around MU.
Supervising editor is Adam Aton.