OHIO community successfully rallies for GameDay Recycling Challenge

October 28, 2015

On Oct. 17, Ohio University competed against colleges and universities across the nation in the 2015 GameDay Recycling Challenge, a waste reduction and recycling competition. More than 22,000 football game attendees recycled and composted 7,225 pounds of materials for a 96 percent diversion rate from landfills. That’s almost a third of the weight of the entire Bobcat football team.

Out of all the waste generated at Peden Stadium and the related tailgates from the Bobcat football game against Western Michigan, 26 percent was composted, 70 percent was recycled or donated for reuse and only four percent went to the landfill. Those statistics will be compared against the waste measured at other participating schools, including Kent State University, University of Akron and University of Toledo.

Participation in the GameDay Challenge was spearheaded by a campus partnership between the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative, a program of the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, and the offices of Campus Recycling and Zero Waste, Facilities Management and OHIO Athletics. Football games and tailgates are now single-stream recycling events staffed in part by student leaders to help fans divert recyclables and compostable materials from the landfill. Clearly-labeled blue bags are provided to tailgate attendees to further increase the amount of recyclables captured.

“At this point, recycling is the new normal. Schools, communities and individuals across the nation are making huge strides in managing our resources wisely and reducing what is lost to the landfill,” Andrew Ladd, OHIO recycling and zero waste manager, said. “Through an amazing collaborative effort, out of approximately 3.5 tons of ‘waste’ created at the game, we sent only 342 pounds to the landfill. OHIO is once again demonstrating what is possible and has great chance to win the GameDay Challenge both in the MAC and nationally this year.”

In the 2014-15 season, 88 schools competed in the GameDay Recycling Challenge, which is managed by the College and University Recycling Coalition, Keep America Beautiful, RecycleMania, Inc. and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise program. Challenge participants diverted more than two million pounds of material from the waste stream in 2014, preventing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 707 cars from the road for a year. 

"We are working toward creating a zero waste campus here at OHIO, and our work on athletic events is making a huge impact,” Kate Blyth, OHIO student zero waste coordinator at the Voinovich School, said. “The collaboration, planning and effort that everyone has put in this season have led to our most successful waste diversion efforts to date. We hope to continue this trend through the rest of the season and into future athletic events.”

The Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative is in its fifth year of working toward creating a zero-waste presence and economy in Appalachian Ohio. The initiative is supported by the Sugar Bush Foundation, funded through the Ohio University Foundation, and is a program of the Voinovich School and its community partner, Rural Action.

The Voinovich School will soon release a student, faculty and staff survey on zero-waste initiatives to the University. Stay tuned to have your voice heard in this campus discussion.

For more information, contact zerowaste@ohio.edu and follow the Twitter updates at @OHIOzerowaste.