Determine Population

Determine Population

Most RecycleMania competition results are calculated on a per capita basis counting both students and staff and faculty. The student and staff population for each campus will be listed on their individual Campus profile page. The population numbers used to divide each college’s recycling weights are determined in one of two ways.

  1. All United States colleges participating with their entire campus will automatically have their campus’s full time equivalent (FTE) population added to their Campus Profile using data gathered from the federal Dept. of Education’s IPEDS database of post-secondary institutions.
  2. Colleges outside the United States and any Benchmark Division schools reporting weight data for a subset of their campus will need to research and provide population data in their registration Profile Survey.

IPEDS Population Database

The U.S. Department of Education compiles key metrics related to the performance of colleges and universities through an online database known as IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System). Using data reported by all colleges and universities, the IPEDS system calculates the FTE population for each campus with standardized methodology. Because a school’s population can be measured in multiple ways, RecycleMania relies on the IPEDS data to ensure as fair a comparison as possible.  

The IPEDS population data used for the RecycleMania is based on: 

  • 12 month student enrollment from the most recent academic year available).
  • FTE calculated using contact hours which is measured based on the amount of they are scheduled for instructional activity ("contact hours").
  • All students and staff for an entire institution, including in most case satellite campuses and other off-campus facilities.

In most cases the population numbers derived from IPEDS will be used for American colleges without changes. In a limited number of situations, the IPEDS data may not accurately reflect the population of a given campus. On a case-by-case basis RecycleMania administrators may agree to alter the population number. If you believe the population number listed on the school’s Campus profile page is substantially incorrect (by more than 10%), please contact the Helpline to discuss whether it warrants revising. Small differences between the posted number and those reported from other sources are likely related to different tracking methods and likely will not result in changes to the posted numbers.

Participant-Generated Population

In some cases, the participating school will be required to provide the FTE student and staff population that will be used to calculate results. Generally this will include:

  • Institutions outside the United States
  • Benchmark Division schools that are participating with a sub set of their campus (i.e. residence halls only, etc.)

In these situations, you will be prompted on your initial registration profile form to provide a number for both students and staff. The numbers provided should correspond strictly to the areas of campus from which you will be collecting and reporting recycling and trash. The numbers should be based on a full time equivalent calculation (as opposed to straight “headcount”) using instructional "contact hours".

Contact the Helpline ( with questions about determining the FTE population for your school.