Marshall Christian Academy in Albertville, Ala., has won first place in the "Recycle-Bowl," a competition for U.S. elementary, middle and high school students.
More than 500,000 students from schools in 47 states took part in the contest, collecting as much recycled material as possible from Oct. 17 to Nov. 12, 2011.
The Alabama school achieved the top prize by recycling 41 pounds of waste per child and reducing their landfill waste by half.
Overall, students in the competition recycled an average of 5.32 pounds of material. Keep America Beautiful Inc., the community action organization that staged the competition, says that if all students in the United States recycled at the rate set by students in the competition, about 1.8 million tons of material would be diverted from landfills.
"Keep America Beautiful is thrilled with the success of Recycle-Bowl's inaugural year, and our congratulations go out not just to our national champion, but to all participating schools for their work in showing how small changes can make a huge impact," says Matt McKenna, president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful. "Participants reported the competition gave them a mechanism to start or improve their school's recycling operations."
The total amount of recyclables recovered during the 2011 competition added up to 2,088,000 pounds, which in turn prevented the release of nearly 990 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. This reduction in greenhouse gases is equivalent to the annual emissions from 154 passenger cars or 191,998 gallons of gas.
The school in each state that collected the most recyclable material per capita received a $1,000 prize. The national champion, Marshall Christian Academy, was then chosen from among the statewide winners to receive an additional grand prize of $2,500 for a total of $3,500.
Keep America Beautiful says that 1,226 schools registered to take part in Recycle-Bowl; that adds up to 544,900 students. Two percent of the participating schools say that because of the competition, they have begun a recycling program.
Faculty from the participating schools say that in addition to education, recycling resources are critical to the success of an in-school recycling program. Access to collection bins and having a reliable hauling partner make a significant difference.
To see a list of statewide winners, click here.