The UA is neck-in-neck with competitor Arizona State University in the nationwide Recyclemania competition, and coordinators said UA residence halls have far surpassed last year's recycling tally.
The UA has already collected more recyclables per student than last year, putting the university's ranking at No. 31 in the nation. ASU is ranked No. 28 in the competition and the chances of beating ASU will come down to the last three weeks of the competition.
"We are kind of behind ASU right now," said Jessica Schluederberg, Recyclemania coordinator. "But this Saturday we have two weeks worth of recycling to weigh so we might pull ahead."
Last year the UA collected 5.77 pounds of recyclables per student. This year's totals have almost doubled, with the UA collecting 9.84 pounds of recyclables per student so far.
Coordinators contribute the huge recycling weight gain to the addition of residence halls and the fact that students are more aware of the competition.
"More students know about the competition this year because it is our second year participating in this competition," said Schluederberg, an environmental science and geography junior. "We also have banners hanging on every residence hall."
The competition is not only nationwide, but also campuswide. Each residence hall has a recycling chairperson to keep track of which hall is pulling in the most weight for the competition.
"A lot of residence halls have a running tally of how we are doing compared to ASU," Schluederberg said. "They are also keeping track of how we are doing compared to each residence hall to get the residents motivated."
Pima Residence Hall, 1340 E. First St., which won last year's competition, is in the lead with 28.22 pounds of recyclables per resident. Villa Del Puente Residence Hall, 575 N. Highland Ave., has amped up the competition, coming in a close second with 25.63 pounds of recyclables per resident.
Villa Del Puente chairman Chris Leet is proud of his second place standing.
"Villa Del Puente is a huge dorm, and I am really proud of our production," said Leet, a business sophomore. "Our output is a lot more than other dorms and it's a tough competition, but the most important thing is that we are helping out the community."
Leet and his crew of helpers empty the recycling containers every Sunday night.
"We put our headphones on and dance around a little bit while picking up the recyclables," Leet said. "We try to make it fun and just get it done."
Leet said he wants to caution students who plan on adding their recycling in the last leg of the competition.
"We can't recycle glass because it's a liability, which is a bummer because it's a good product to recycle," said Leet. "Also, the most frustrating thing is when people throw regular trash in the recycling containers, but we deal with it."
Students afraid to recycle illegal paraphernalia such as beer cans do not need to worry.
"We always see the occasional beer, can but we don't do anything about it," Leet said.
Schluederberg said much of Recyclemania's success is attributed to the new advertising methods used to inform students, including a television commercial that emphasizes the recycling rivalry between the UA and ASU.
"There are banners on every residence hall to promote Recyclemania, and we also have two commercials on our Web site," Schluederberg said.
There are three weeks left in the Recyclemania competition, which means three more weeks to surpass ASU.
"We are hoping to recycle a lot more in the next three weeks," Schluederberg said. "I think it's going to be close."