Recycling blitz: U Competes in National GameDay Recycling Challenge

Recycle Rice-Eccles

Students and green people weave through tailgating lots to collect recyclable materials at University of Utah football games.

By Ayrel Clark-Proffitt, Sustainability Office

At the Homecoming game, the contest won’t just be on the field—it will be in the waste bins, too.

On Oct. 10, while the Utes take on the Golden Bears from California State, the University of Utah will also compete in the annual GameDay Recycling Challenge, a national, friendly competition that encourages sustainable practices and waste reduction at stadiums and tailgating lots.

The GameDay Recycling Challenge is hosted by the College & University Recycling Coalition, the Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise Program, Keep America Beautiful, and RecycleMania.

Last year, the University of Utah prevented nearly 4,000 pounds of recyclable materials from going to the landfill for the GameDay Recycling Challenge. Much of this material was diverted because of the efforts from the Recycle Rice-Eccles, a program managed by the ASUU Sustainability Board that organizes volunteers to collect cans and bottles in the tailgating lots at football home games.

“I love the passion and dedication shown by students and ASUU during recycling drives at football games,” says Myron Willson, deputy chief sustainability officer for the U, about the Recycle Rice-Eccles program. “These students are out every game helping others be more responsible with their waste.”

Recycle Rice-Eccles is always looking for more volunteers. Volunteers receive a free t-shirt and a ticket to the game. Sign up for upcoming games online at asuu.utah.edu/recyclericeeccles.

Fans segregate recyclables.

Fans in the tailgating lot can segregate their recyclables to make collection easier!

Looking for other ways you can help? During tailgating, take these simple steps:

  1. Bring a separate bag, bin, or box for your recyclable items;
  2. Put a sign on your recycling bin and tell your group members that you are doing your part to prevent items from going to the landfill;
  3. Keep all food waste away from plastics, glass, and aluminum;
  4. Give your items to the volunteers with Recycle Rice-Eccles—they will be circulating throughout the tailgating lots and campus;
  5. Go to the game and cheer loud for the Utes!

While it would be great to win the national competition, the real victory is in the collective action that takes place at athletic events across the country. In 2014, participants in the GameDay Recycling Challenge prevented a combined 1,098 tons of bottles, cans, cardboard, and in some cases, food waste from going to the landfill. That’s the equivalent of the annual greenhouse gas emissions from more than 700 passenger vehicles.

Together let’s help the U help the planet. Go Utes!

Ayrel Clark-Proffitt is the campus engagement coordinator for the University of Utah Sustainability Office.

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