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The Campus Race to Zero Waste

Campus Race to Zero Waste LogoFormerly known as RecycleMania, the Campus Race to Zero Waste is an annual 8-week competition, which challenges colleges and universities across the United States and Canada to collect the largest volume of recyclable materials. The goals of the competition are to benchmark our school’s recycling and waste reduction efforts against other campuses, reduce waste, lower the school’s environmental footprint, and to generate attention and support for recycling and waste reduction programs.

2024 Competition

Each week, the university’s waste data is entered into the competition dashboard and results will be given periodically throughout the competition.  During the 2024 competition, the university will participate in the following categories:

  • Diversion - Recyclables, food organics, and trash weights reported
  • Per Capita - Recyclable weights reported (no trash weights)
  • Food Organics - Food waste and any organic materials handled alongside total food waste reported. Organics generated in office and campus residential settings and special events can be included in addition to what is collected from dining facilities. 
  • Electronics Recycling - Competition based on collection of scrap electronics over one-month period.

UMD's 2023 Competition Highlights

  • Diverted 42% of waste away from the landfill (into recycling or compost), ranking #1 in Maryland, # in the Big10, and #24 nationally!
  • Ranked #25 nationally in the Food Organics category through composting and food waste minimization practices. 

The chart below shows the last five years of competition results.

Category: 202320222021 2020 2019
Rates of Waste Recycled or Composted (Diversion)42%44%35%53%50%
 Diversion- National Ranking 24th of 9129th of 10345th of  104 25th of 145 35th of 159  
 Diversion- State Ranking 1st of 31st of 53rd of 4 1st of 5 1st of 5
 Diversion- Big10 Ranking1st of 72nd of 43rd of 8 1st of 7 2nd of 8
Amount of Waste Recycled Per Person (Per Capita)7.8 lbs/person6.2 lbs/person4.7 lbs/person 6.8 lbs/person 11 lbs/person
 Per Capita National Ranking54th of 10771st of 11978th of 209 82nd of 192 83rd of 214
 Per Capita State Ranking4th of 43rd of 42nd of 5 3rd of 7 6th of 7
 Big10 Ranking4th of 64th of 46th of 7 5th of 7 5th of 9
Food/Organics (amount composted)65.8 points75.6 points75.1 points 19.3 points 19.6 points
 National Ranking 25th of 829th of 918th of 103 56th of 144 57th of 148
This year we are looking to do even better and we need YOUR help! Visit for proper waste sorting techniques. 

Recycling/composting tips are shared through social media: Be sure to follow @TerpsRecycle and @SustainableUMD on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram!
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