January 11, 2012 — The University of Virginia claimed victory in two categories of a national waste-reduction competition held last fall in conjunction with a football game.
The U.Va. Department of Athletics and U.Va. Sustainability partnered to participate in the Environmental Protection Agency's "Game Day Challenge" on Oct. 15, when the Cavaliers hosted Georgia Tech at Scott Stadium. The challenge, part of the EPA's WasteWise program, promoted waste reduction and increased awareness of waste-reduction programs among approximately 80 participating colleges and universities.
U.Va. took first for having the greatest greenhouse gas reductions from diverting waste and for having the highest recycling rate. Student volunteers and Facilities Management employees collected 22,125 pounds of bottles and cans at the game, along with 6,010 pounds of cardboard and 17,000 pounds of trash.
"More than 70 students volunteered to hand out blue recycling bags to tailgaters and educate fans on recyclable materials," said Nina Morris, the sustainability outreach coordinator in Facilities Management "Thanks to their efforts, along with the dedicated recycling staff, U.Va. achieved an impressive 0.779 pounds-per-person recycling rate."
This is the second year U.Va. has participated in the challenge.
"Building off of our lessons learned from last year, we were able to increase the number of volunteers, reach more tailgating areas and increase awareness of what you can recycle at U.Va.," Morris said. "U.Va. fans demonstrated their love of U.Va. and their commitment to sustainability by recycling disposables while tailgating."
Student volunteers were deployed on Friday and Saturday to assist with the Game Day Challenge effort. Wearing orange shirts with the words " 'HOOS RECYCLE," they delivered bags to tailgaters across Grounds, encouraged fans to recycle and explained the contest.
U.Va. Recycling set up extra recycling containers for the game; volunteers stationed at the entrances encouraged fans to recycle as they entered the stadium; and announcements were made on the stadium's public address system with a graphic displayed on the "HooVision" video board.
"The strong partnership between U.Va. Athletics and Facilities Management made implementing this event fun and exciting for our students and helped build U.Va. pride," Morris said.
Following the game, recyclables were weighed and compared to the total amount of trash generated.
"Reducing, reusing and recycling moves our nation towards an environmentally and economically greener, sustainable tomorrow," Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, said in a press release. "These schools and fans have taken the lead through the Game Day Challenge, and now they are ready and equipped with tools and resources to continue to reduce waste across all campus activities and beyond."