The University of Virginia has defended its title in the Game Day Challenge, coming in first in the Atlantic Coast Conference for recycling, waste reduction and greenhouse gas reduction. It also placed seventh in the nation in these categories.
The Game Day Challenge is a nationwide contest, sponsored by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, to promote waste diversion at college football games. This year’s challenge fell on Oct. 25, during Homecoming Weekend and the Cavaliers’ heartbreaking 28-27 loss to University of North Carolina.
Fans at Scott Stadium recycled 0.816 pounds of material per person and diverted 70 percent of the waste material from the game away from landfills. U.Va. attendees also composted 0.088 pounds of material per person.
“We were able to defend our title because of the impressive efforts of volunteers and the athletics department,” said Nina Morris, outreach and engagement program manager with U.Va.’s Office for Sustainability.
“We had more than 100 volunteers this year and an aggressive composting effort in the suites and with the back-of-the-house concessions,” Morris said. “U.Va. Dining switched all disposable plates, cups and utensils used in the suites to plant-based products that could easily be composted.”
U.Va. Sustainability targeted a “zero-waste” result from the suites this season, which the challenge guidelines define as diverting about 90 percent of the waste from landfills. This season, about 80 percent of the debris from the suites was diverted, including about 7.6 tons of compost. These efforts were reflected in the Game Day numbers.
“We’re getting close to that ‘zero-waste’ level in the suites with the help of student volunteers who sort through the compost and the recyclables,” Morris said.
The concession stands recycled and composted all their waste during the Oct. 25 game, she said, adding that there was a strong effort from the tailgating parties.
“We couldn’t have done it without the fans, especially the ones who were tailgating,” Morris said. “Some tailgates, like the Engineering Alumni Homecoming Weekend Tailgate, went zero-waste in support of the Game Day Challenge effort. They took the time to ensure all their waste could be either composted or recycled and made it easy for fans to properly dispose of their waste. That shows how committed U.Va. fans are to sustainability.”