The University of Virginia will step up its game Saturday by adding food composting in its efforts to win an annual football game waste-reduction competition.
The Department of Athletics, U.Va. Sustainability and U.Va. Dining Services are partnering in the annual Game Day Challenge, to be held Saturday when the Cavalier football team hosts the Georgia Institute of Technology Yellow Jackets at Scott Stadium at 12:30 p.m.
The Game Day Challenge is a national competition sponsored by the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise program, Keep America Beautiful and College and University Recycling Coalition, designed to promote waste reduction. This year, 63 colleges and universities are competing to reduce waste during a home football game. The schools will be ranked on their recycling and waste data, with the winner to be announced in January.
In previous years, U.Va. has relied solely upon aggressive recycling efforts in the competition, but this year it will include food waste composting.
“As universities across the nation get more aggressive with their waste reduction and diversion efforts, the Game Day Challenge gets more competitive,” said Nina Morris, sustainability outreach coordinator for Facilities Management. “This year, we’re including back-of-the-house composting inside Scott Stadium and we’re piloting a compost station at the Aquatic & Fitness Center tailgating lot.”
Following Saturday’s football game, recyclables and compost will be weighed and compared to the total amount of trash generated. U.Va. Sustainability, which coordinates sustainability efforts on Grounds, will submit those totals, plus the total attendance at the football game, to the Game Day Challenge competition organizers.
Last year, U.Va. placed fifth in the “Recycling Champion” category and was third in the “Greatest Greenhouse Gas Reductions From Diverting Waste” category. Student volunteers and Facilities Management employees collected 13,094 pounds of bottles and cans at the game, along with 3,558 pounds of cardboard and 17,220 pounds of trash.
This weekend, “we’ve got more than 80 students who will collect recyclables from fans before the game and then will also collect food waste once the game has concluded,” Morris said. “We’re thrilled to partner with U.Va. Athletics on diverting food waste from landfills and we hope this will help us win a Game Day Challenge title.”
Student volunteers will assist with this year’s Game Day Challenge on Friday and Saturday, wearing orange shirts emblazoned with “HOOS RECYCLE,” delivering bags to tailgaters across Grounds, explaining the challenge and encouraging fans to recycle. U.Va. Recycling will set up extra containers for Saturday’s game, with volunteers stationed at stadium entrances to encourage fans to recycle. Announcements will also be made throughout the game.
This is the fourth time that U.Va. has participated in the Game Day Challenge.