Campuses Divert 105 Million Single-Use Plastics from Landfill During 2024 Campus Race to Zero Waste Competition

2.7 million students, faculty and staff across more than 150 college campuses donated, composted and recycled more than 30 million pounds of waste.

RESTON, Va. – Campus Race to Zero Waste, a program of the National Wildlife Federation and RecycleMania Inc., has recognized 30 colleges and universities as winners in this year’s competition. Winners are selected in each major category representing small, medium and large campus sizes, with individual winners announced for special categories. 

“This year’s college and university competition participants made enormous strides on waste reduction and integrating sustainable practices throughout their campuses,” said Kristy Jones, director of higher education programs at National Wildlife Federation. “These collective actions to reduce the schools’ waste footprints are inspiring and are making a tangible positive impact on the environment.” 

“Our 2024 winners show why colleges continue to be among our nation’s leaders on sustainability,” said Stacey Wheeler, co-founder and president of Campus Race to Zero Waste. “These schools run the gamut – urban and rural, public and private, large and small. Their success shows that waste reduction in any type of community is possible, and is a testament to every student, faculty and staff member who made these accomplishments happen.”

More than 2.7 million college students and staff across more than 150 campuses competed to reduce their waste footprint through minimization efforts by donating, composting and recycling more than 30.7 million pounds of waste. As a result, they kept more than 105 million single-use plastic containers out of landfills and prevented the release of 23,174 metric tons equivalent of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, equal to avoiding the annual emissions from 5,515 cars. 

Winners from each category include: 

Zero Waste Category
   ● Large campus: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
   **No small or medium campuses named in this category for the 2024 competition. 

Food Organics Category
   ● Small campus: Aquinas College, Michigan
   ● Medium campus: Loyola Marymount University, California
   ● Large campus: Kent State University, Ohio

Diversion Category
   ● Small campus: Macalester College, Minnesota 
   ● Medium campus: Seattle University, Washington
   ● Large campus: University of Louisville, Kentucky

Per Capita Category
   ● Small campus: Neumann University, Pennsylvania
   ● Medium campus: Loyola Marymount University, California
   ● Large campus: Boston College, Massachusetts

GameDay Basketball
   ● Diversion category: University of Richmond, Virginia
   ● Per Capita Recycling category: University of the Incarnate Word, Texas

Race to Zero Waste – One Building challenge
   ● Pennsylvania State University

Clean-up Category
   ● Drexel University, Pennsylvania

Electronics challenge
   ● Per Capita Recycling category: Northwest Missouri State University
   ● Total Pounds Recycled category: Rutgers University, New Jersey

Green Events
   ● Agnes Scott College, Georgia and University of Massachusetts Amherst (under 50 attendees)
   ● University of Michigan Dearborn and Villanova University, Pennsylvania (under 100 attendees)
   ● Southern Illinois University Carbondale and University of South Carolina Upstate (under 500 attendees)
   ● Iowa State University (under 1,000 attendees)
   ● Coastal Carolina University, South Carolina and University of California, Irvine (more than 1,000 attendees)

For more details about our categories and winners, please visit the 2024 Scoreboard.

About Campus Race to Zero Waste

Campus Race to Zero Waste is the nation’s premier waste reduction and recycling competition among colleges and universities, managed by the National Wildlife Federation, and governed by RecycleMania, Inc. Campus Race to Zero Waste has been helping campuses minimize waste and improve their recycling efforts since its launch in 2001. 

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