CMU wins organics category in Campus Race to Zero Waste

Campus Race to Zero waste signs hang on recycling bins in the Park Library

This past spring, Central Michigan University won the first award of its kind in the Campus Race to Zero Waste.

CMU placed first in the food organics category among large-sized campuses.

Formerly called RecycleMania until 2021, Campus Race to Zero Waste is a national event, sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation.

“[The competition] basically incentivizes colleges and universities to track their waste more effectively and efficiently as well as report and compare it against their partner schools,” said Eric Urbaniak, CMU senior and co-founder of Central Sustainability.

CMU participated in three categories - electronics, organics and game day challenge - during the 8-week long competition.

Urbanick said the Campus Race to Zero Waste is a fun way for students to be engaged and involve others.

“We are composting over 300 tons of food waste per year,” said Urbaniak. “So, as our waste diversion practices like composting have grown at CMU and we found more ways to recycle more materials, we found it’s really fun and beneficial to see what other universities are doing which has kind of incentivized us to keep participating in this competition.”

Urbaniak said the success of Central Sustainability is also due to students' response.

“We would not be successful if we didn’t educate students and students were not willing to learn (about) their waste and trash and composting,” he said.

“We as a campus have been able to educate our community on these best sorting practices, which has enabled us to be successful in this competition and maximize the amount of waste that we are sending to different recycling waste streams and composting and organic waste streams, instead of that landfill stream which is the most harmful,” Urbaniak said.