University Sustainability

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Appalachian Takes Gold in EPA Game Day Challenge 2014; Plans big for 2015

Monday, June 8, 2015

Boone, NC—It may be the height of summer but the Appalachian State University Zero Waste team is already planning for a spectacular 2015-16-football season. For them, it's not the score up in lights that matters but the percentage of waste diverted from the landfill during games.

In its inaugural Zero Waste Stadium initiative last season, the university netted a 74 percent waste diversion and took three out of five golds in the EPA Game Day Challenge Sunbelt Conference rankings: overall conference waste diversion rate, organic waste and waste minimization. The university took second place for recycling and greenhouse gas emission reduction. For the challenge, colleges compete by conference. Appalachian was up against efforts at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Georgia State University and Texas State University.

According to University Resource Conservation Specialist Jen Maxwell, the Zero Waste Stadium project, an expansion of the Recycle at The Rock program initiated in 2008, was successful due in large part to across-the-board cooperation and collaboration.

For the upcoming season Maxwell says the Office of Sustainability will hire 10 motivated student interns who will marshal efforts at the six home games, and provide outreach to the campus community around zero waste and sustainability. A number of initiatives for broadening waste reduction at the stadium are in the planning stages.

Dr. Greg Taylor, assistant director of the physical plant and director of campus services, credited the success of the past season's initiative to team effort. "The crew members were committed from the beginning and we hope this year will be even more positive. We learned a lot about logistics and effective collection site placement. We had six home games and were able to gather excellent data to support the success of the program."

According to EPA statistics released earlier this year, 91 colleges and universities participated in the Game Day Recycling Challenge in 2014 to recycle or reuse "1,098 tons of bottles, cans, paper, cardboard, food scraps, and other recyclables" from the crowds at College Football stadiums. (EPA, 2015). EPA (2015) "College Football Fans Divert Over 2 Million Pounds of Material from the Landfill in 2014.