American Recycler News, Inc.


College football fans recycle 1.5 million pounds of material

From ballpark franks to french fries and water bottles to beverage cans, college football game days produce a large and valuable volume of recyclable material. Participants in the 2013 Game Day Challenge – the friendly recycling competition among U.S. colleges and universities – are seeking to increase recycling and composting at their games, to shrink their environmental footprint and broaden their sustainability efforts.

During this collegiate football season, more than 85 schools across the nation took on the challenge to collect cans and bottles, cardboard, food scraps and more from the tailgate areas, stadium seating and concessions during at least one home game. Schools measured and reported their results along with game attendance for ranking in five categories.

The winners of the 2013 Game Day Recycling Challenge are:

  • Waste Minimization Champion (least amount of waste generated per attendee) – Central Connecticut State University;
  • Diversion Rate Champion (greatest combined recycling and composting rate) – Ohio State University;
  • Greenhouse Gas Reduction Champion (greenhouse gas emissions prevented by diverting waste) – Franklin College;
  • Recycling Champion (greatest recycling per attendee) – Franklin College; and,
  • Organics Reduction Champion (greatest organics recovery per attendee) – University of Akron.

More than just a competition, Game Day Challenge is an opportunity for participating schools to demonstrate to students and team supporters that recycling and reducing waste are not activities limited to the home or office. Many participating schools deployed teams of volunteers to collect cans and bottles from pre-game tailgaters. Other schools engaged their mascots, set up zero-waste stations inside the stadiums to collect food scraps and more, or arranged for special recycling messages to be announced during the game.

University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Office of Sustainability and Athletic Department led a team effort to make its Game Day Recycling Challenge a success.

The spotlight on recycling during University of Wisconsin-Madison’s game included several scoreboard messages, speaker announcements and a video clip that encouraged the fans in attendance to recycle.

During this year’s competition, 6.4 million fans at 88 participating schools kept nearly 1.5 million pounds of game-day waste out of landfills, which prevented approximately 1,980 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released.

The 2013 Game Day Challenge was administered by the College & University Recycling Coalition, Keep America Beautiful and RecycleMania, Inc., with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Many schools will bring their recycling game from the football field to the basketball court this winter to compete in the Game Day Basketball category of the RecycleMania Tournament.