By Ayrel Clark-Proffitt, campus engagement coordinator for the Sustainability Office
Before the University of Utah football team took the field against Cal for its Homecoming game on Oct. 10, 2015, the challenge was already on. The Game Day Recycling Challenge, that is.
The GameDay Recycling Challenge is a national, friendly competition that encourages sustainable practices and waste reduction at stadiums and tailgating lots. Results for the 2015 challenge were announced this week.
Thanks to the help of volunteers from Recycle Rice-Eccles and dedicated fans, the U prevented 2,415 pounds of recyclable materials from going to waste in the landfill. That total means that the U managed to divert 13.9 percent of its total waste for recycling that game. (The U also managed to divert over 1,000 pounds of recycling more than BYU! So many satisfying victories over the Cougars this season.)
The U’s diversion rate was good enough for 8th place in the Pac-12, and it represented a 59-percent increase over last year’s diversion rate. In total, the U recycled:
- Cardboard: 820 lbs.
- Paper: 710 lbs.
- Aluminum: 275 lbs.
- Plastic and glass: 610 lbs.
- Trash: 14,960 lbs.
For the University of Utah to compete for first place, it would need to implement organic waste collection, says Myron Willson, deputy chief sustainability officer for the Sustainability Office. The seven Pac-12 schools that beat the U all collect compostable materials.
Sawson Gholami, director of the ASUU Sustainability Board, says around 50 volunteers participated in Recycle Rice-Eccles for Homecoming. The value of Recycle Rice-Eccles is the awareness it spreads about waste generation, Gholami says.
“Seeing the bags upon bags of waste we gathered, while the nearby dumpster was still overflowing with recyclable and non-recyclable garbage … really gave me a visceral sense of the scale of our collective waste stream,” he says. “Participating in Recycle Rice-Eccles has made me consider how much waste I, as just an individual, generate and how I can reduce that amount.”
Willson says the people who volunteer to collect recyclables from the tailgating lots continue to impress him.
“For five years, volunteers have walked or biked through the hoards of football fans to gather plastic, glass, cans, and other materials that can be recycled instead of thrown away. Their dedication reminds me that collectively we can make a difference,” he says.
Recycle Rice-Eccles in an annual ASUU program to collect cans and bottles in tailgating lots at home football games. Volunteers receive a t-shirt and free entry to the game. Learn more at asuu.utah.edu/recyclericeeccles.
The GameDay Recycling Challenge is hosted by the College & University Recycling Coalition, the Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise Program, Keep America Beautiful, and RecycleMania.