Winners Announced for 2022 Campus Race to Zero Waste Competition

3.6 million college students, faculty and staff across 200 college campuses kept more than 200 million single-use plastic containers out of landfills

RESTON, Va. – The National Wildlife Federation and RecycleMania Inc. are excited to announce 16 colleges and universities as winners of the 2022 Campus Race to Zero Waste Competition. Three winners were selected in each major category, representing small, medium and large campus sizes, with individual winners announced for special categories.

More than 3.6 million college students and staff across 200 campuses competed in 2022 to reduce their waste footprint through minimization efforts by donating, composting and recycling more than 27.9 million pounds of waste. As a result, they kept more than 200 million single-use plastic containers out of landfills and prevented the release of 30,288 metric tons equivalent of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, equal to avoiding the annual emissions from 6,376 cars.

“Working alongside RecycleMania Inc. to engage and educate millions of students, staff and faculty in the United States has had an undeniable impact on the environment, wildlife and surrounding ecosystems. This competition demonstrates the monumental difference we can make if we come together to reduce our waste,” said Kim Martinez, vice president of education and engagement programs at the National Wildlife Federation. “We look forward to building this program’s decades long impact with our college and university partners.”

“Annually the Campus Race to Zero Waste competition provides key tools and opportunities that inspire, empower and mobilize colleges and universities to improve their efforts to reduce and eliminate waste,” says Stacy Wheeler, president and co-founder of the competition. “Congratulations to all participating campuses. Your efforts are significant and noteworthy. Your competition engagements on campus not only provide environmental and economic benefits, but are inherent of creating good global citizens of where we work, learn and live.”   

“Rubicon’s mission is to end waste, and we are honored to once again play a role in helping college students across the United States learn about sustainable practices and their positive impact on our environment,” said David Rachelson, Chief Sustainability Officer at Rubicon. “If those who have participated in this year’s competition represent the future of the zero-waste movement in our country, I believe we can create a cleaner, healthier, and safer world for all.”  

Winners from each category include: 

Zero Waste Category

  • Small campus: Western Colorado University, Colorado
  • Medium: No campuses named in this category for the 2022 competition
  • Large campus: University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan 

Food Organics Category

  • Small campus: Wofford College, South Carolina
  • Medium campus: Loyola Marymount University, California
  • Large campus: Central Michigan University, Michigan

 Diversion Category

  • Small campus: Macalester College, Minnesota
  • Medium campus: Loyola Marymount University, California
  • Large campus: University of Louisville, Kentucky

Per Capita Category

  • Small campus: Coe College, Iowa
  • Medium campus: Loyola Marymount University, California
  • Large campus: Stanford University, California

Race to Zero Waste – One Building challenge

  • Aquinas College, Michigan

Electronics challenge

  • Per Capita Recycling category:  Bryant University
  • Total Pounds Recycled category: Cornell University

GameDay Basketball

  • Diversion category: University of Southern California, California
  • Per Capita Recycling category: University of the Incarnate Word, Texas

A few key themes were clear during this year’s competition, campuses were eager to revive and relaunch waste reduction efforts that were halted or put on hold due to the pandemic. Many schools focused their efforts on local food security issues through support of food recovery programs and centered their education and awareness campaigns on waste disposal and safety.

For more details about our categories and winners, please visit the 2022 scoreboard.

About Campus Race to Zero Waste

Campus Race to Zero Waste – formerly known as RecycleMania – is the nation’s premier waste reduction and recycling competition among colleges and universities, managed by 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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