Talking trash? Sure, it’s Recyclemania

As tall men in Cal jerseys racked up a victory Sunday on Pete Newell Court — beating the Oregon State men’s basketball squad 73 to 56 — the Bears defended a title in a different intercollegiate battle: the national “game-day” recycling competition.

two students with recycling signs

Cal Dance Team members Katie Russel and Anne Flannigan take a time-out to evangelize for recycling.

For this annual Recyclemania contest, more than 600 colleges around the country vie to divert game-day trash, urging fans to sort food waste, food containers and other items from the game into compost or recycling bins. UC Berkeley took the top prize In 2013 and 2014.

This year, a video promoting the Recyclemania challenge played during a time-out in the first half, followed by a trash-sorting game in the second half. And “trash talking” students staffed waste stations and information tables in Haas Pavilion’s corridors to educate fans on the fine points of recycling.

Cal fans were game. Grant Fineman, a UC Berkeley senator, was there in the stands with his family. A Bay Area native, he’s been recycling and composting for some time, he said. “I think it boils down to taking the time to better the earth.”

Campus Recycling and Refuse Services led the Recyclemania effort, with weeks of planning and work to ensure that food-related items were provided in compostable or recyclable containers. Student recycling enthusiasts then spent Monday weighing a mother lode of cans, bottles and compost, for a final tally — with results of the national Recyclemania contest to be announced in mid-April.

“We’re confident that we will beat our [93 percent] diversion rate from last year,” said CRRS manager Lin King.