As college football teams prepare to compete on the field, their cheering fans in the stands have a chance to score another kind of honor for their school.
The GameDay Recycling Challenge has kicked off this year’s competition for colleges and universities in 15 athletic conferences, challenging them to clamp down on the amount of waste produced in their stadiums and in tailgating areas. Any school with a football program can participate.
“Leveraging the school spirit that comes out during these classic football rivalries presents a unique opportunity to build awareness and connection to waste reduction and recycling among college football fans of all ages,” Brenda Pulley, senior vice president of recycling for Keep America Beautiful, said in a statement.
Here’s how it works: A school chooses one or more games to report the amount of waste diverted through recycling, composting and food donations and how that compares to the amount thrown away.
Schools within each conference can compete in five categories, and national winners will be picked for two categories – total amount recycled, composted and donated and diversion rate, or the percentage of waste diverted from the landfill.
Competing schools must register here by Sept. 30 and then report their numbers by Dec. 8. The competition was founded in 2009 with 8 participating schools. Last year, 88 schools participated, accounting for 1.5 million pounds of diverted materials.
The College and University Recycling Coalition, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Wastewise Program, Keep America Beautiful and RecycleMania manage the program.
“There are many benefits for a school participating in the GameDay Recycling Challenge,” Robyn Hathcock, CURC board chair and housing zero waste program coordinator of the University of Oregon, said in a statement.
“Not only does it bring positive exposure for school athletic programs, it expands the fan experience through game-day recycling and zero waste reduction activities. Because the 2014 time frame has been extended, schools can include late-season rivalry games, which will increase exposure, enthusiasm and performance in the Challenge,” Hathcock added.
The program also recognizes educational institutions that commit to Zero Waste, which GameDay organizers define as a school achieving a 90 percent or higher diversion rate.
“As more and more college football stadiums step up their sustainability game, the GameDay Recycling Challenge showcases the top zero waste college stadiums in the country while offering technical assistance and support to stadium-based recycling programs that want to achieve more,” Stacy Wheeler, president of RecycleMania, said in a statement. “The response to the Challenge so far has been remarkably positive and growing.”