The numbers are in, the calculators have done the math and results are now official. RecycleMania 2014 has been a grand success! Here are the highlights:

Antioch University Seattle seized the Grand Champion title with an unparalleled 93% recycling rate! The University lived up to its Commitment to Sustainability by increasing their final recycling rate by 10 percentage points over last year. The secret to their success: beyond having a first rate recycling and recovery program, the school of less than 700 students arranged this year to sort the remaining trash during the term of the competition.

Meanwhile, Kalamazoo College took home both the Per Capita Classic and the Bottles and Cans division wins. Their top rankings return the “K” College Hornets to their winning ways, after taking the Bottles and Cans prize in 2009 and 2010.

Six-time winner of the Gorilla prize, Rutgers University, extended their streak in 2014, The Scarlet-Knights narrowly held off the Duke Blue Devils with a total of 1,183,000 pounds of cardboard, paper and bottles and cans recycling during the spring tournament. With Antioch University Seattle, North Lake College, and Valencia Community College all vying for Waste Minimization victory, it took a combination of RecycleMania experience and innovative thinking to secure Valencia their third-straight win. Their efforts to go paperless by switching to electronic media and centralized waste collection bins paid off.

The Westfield State Nestors proved the fourth time’s a charm with their first-ever victory in the Paper category. After three years in the top ten, and a second-place finish last year, The Nestors perseverance got them the gold!

Eager to restore their 2012 title, Bard College composted their way to the top of the heap claiming the Food Service Organics title with an impressive 28,521 pounds collected!

Last year, the U.S. Military Academy missed the cardboard category prize by just .27 pounds. This year, the West Point Black Nights put their four years of RecycleMania experience to work and collected 27.59 pounds of cardboard per capita to win the category!

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission

The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) hosted their first Great American Cleanup event on March 22. Six volunteers and two staff members removed more than 350 tires from the Terre Noire Natural Area in Southwest Arkansas! The ANHC partnered with a local tire recycling company to ensure the tires did not make their way to a landfill. Thank you, ANHC!

Whitetail Assassins of Arkansas

On March 1, 2014, the Whitetail Assassins of Arkansas hosted “Trashin’ with the Assassin,” an ATV litter pick-up of Mount Magazine State Park.

Seven volunteers removed approximately 400 pounds of litter from fifteen miles of roads and trails surrounding Mount Magazine. From the litter removed, they were able to recycle around 75 pounds of plastic, aluminum and glass.

Texarkana, Arkansas

Volunteers across Texarkana, Arkansas joined together on March 8, 2014 for their, “Cleaner is Greener!” Great American Cleanup and recycling event.

Volunteers removed over 1,000 pounds of litter from the streets of Texarkana, cleaning 5 miles of roadways. More than 15,000 pounds of bulky waste was collected in dumpsters throughout the city. Volunteers also planted more than 30 trees.

Texarkana also hosted a large recycling drive–collecting almost 2,000 pounds each of both plastic and aluminum. They also collected almost 4,000 pounds of newspaper, and almost 5,000 pounds of e-waste.

Arizona Recycling Coalition

Congratulations to the students of Bourgade Catholic High School’s Earthwatch Club for winning second place in this year’s statewide Recycle Bowl Competition! Staff from Arizona Recycling Coalition and City of Phoenix Public Works Department awarded them with a check for $500 from the Arizona Recycling Coalition..

You guys are awesome recyclers! Thanks for all your hard work and keep recycling!

Keep Georgia Beautiful’s annual “Bring One for the Chipper”

When the Christmas season comes to an end, Keep Georgia Beautiful is working hard to host it’s annual Bring One for the Chipper Christmas tree recycling event.  With nearly 300 collection sites throughout Georgia, it is the largest Christmas tree recycling in the nation.  Through a partnership with Earth-911 and the support of Home Depot, The Davey Tree Company and WXIA11-Alive, Keep Georgia Beautiful has successfully hosted Bring One for the Chipper for the past 23 years.

Since the program started in 1991, Georgia has been successful in recycling over 6 million trees with an average of about 200,000 trees each year. “It is a great way to divert [the trees] from landfills and an easy way to close the loop. A lot are used for mulch and some trees are sunk into rivers for fish and wildlife habitat,” explained Kanika Greenlee, the director of programs and development for Keep Georgia Beautiful.

According to Keep Georgia Beautiful, the mulch from these trees has been used for playgrounds, local government beautification projects, and individual yards. Mulched landscapes help absorb runoff and prevent erosion during times of heavy rainfall.

This year, the Bring One for the Chipper event will take place on Saturday, January 4, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Georgia residents can visit for a list of drop-off centers by zip codes throughout the state.

Keep Virginia Beautiful, Glen Allen, VA

Keep Virginia Beautiful’s “30 Grants in 30 Days” was a great success in 2013! Our nearly 3,000 volunteers worked tirelessly to make the 30 projects a great success, cleaning up 14,057 pounds of debris; planting 705 plants and 109 trees; and installing 25 gardens. Keep Virginia Beautiful would like to thank Lowe’s and Keep America Beautiful for their sponsorship of our “30 in 30″ program in 2013!

Make your America Recycles Day event successful and unique

Each year, Keep America Beautiful (KAB) and its affiliates celebrate America Recycles Day (ARD) on (or around) Nov. 15. Whether you’re a KAB affiliate or an ARD participating organization, it’s time to start planning for this year’s event, and we have a few ideas for you.

Recycle fashion show: Recycling is fashionable, so why not set the stage for your creative class to show off some art made of recycled and repurposed items. This event promises fun for the participants and attendees and has high potential for grabbing media attention. (We have to credit this idea. We’ve worked with Keep the Rez Beautiful in Mississippi, an affiliate of KAB that holds a recycle fashion show each year as its annual fundraiser. They borrowed the concept from another affiliate in Mississippi, Keep Bay St. Louis Beautiful.) What can your community send down the catwalk?

Monofilament collection program: Monofilament, or fishing line, causes problems when littered. It can harm or kill wildlife and takes 600 years to decompose. Combat this with a simple monofilament collection program. By placing receptacles at fishing piers and boat launches, you can ask people to dispose of monofilament properly. BoatU.S. Foundation works with groups to launch monofilament collection programs that recycle the line. (This idea was also taken from Keep the Rez Beautiful, who started a program earlier this year with 10 bins with the help of the BoatU.S. Foundation.) After you teach a man how to fish, you need to teach him what do to with the fishing line.

Paper or plastic (neither?): Think how much plastic is used to bag groceries each year. A good way to cut down on the plastic bags doled out in your community is by arming your community members with reusable cloth bags. You can work with your local grocery store and maybe have volunteers helping bag people’s groceries with the recyclable bag. Be sure to put both your logo and theirs on the bag.

Hazardous or electronic wastes collection: In a lot of places, disposing and recycling of these items is tough. You can set up a drop-off site, even if it’s just for a day. Your affiliate can partner with your state department of environmental quality and local recycling businesses to make holding this event rather painless, leaving mainly the promotion up to you.

We encourage you to recycle one of these ideas in your community!

One final note: Don’t forget to register your event with KAB. KAB has some great resources available for America Recycles Day, including social media graphics, flyers and press releases.

-Guest post from Justin Fritscher, Principal, FritscherSmith, and recipient of KAB’s 2012 Young Professional Award