Saturday’s pigskin challenge: recycle

October 12, 2010When the University of Miami rolls into town Saturday to play at Wallace Wade Stadium, the team won’t be the only Atlantic Coast Conference football squad Duke is going up against.

Duke is participating in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Game Day Challenge, a friendly competition that pits about 90 colleges and universities against each other to promote waste reduction at one home football game of their choosing in October. Duke is one of 10 ACC schools participating, including University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. No actual awards are given to schools that prove to be the most sustainable; just bragging rights.

“This will be a fun way to energize the Duke community around recycling and waste reduction,” said Arwen Buchholz, Duke’s recycling and waste reduction coordinator. “We hope that this competition makes the idea of living sustainably more accessible and fun.”

Duke will compete Saturday in categories that focus on waste reduction and recycling. To help Duke in each category, fans are asked to be mindful of their waste by keeping areas clear of garbage and to deposit recyclables in marked containers and bags that will be set up on campus. Results are determined by the lowest amount of waste generated per person in attendance or the most recycled materials per person in attendance. For example, the total weight of recycled materials from the game will be divided by the total attendance at Saturday’s game.

In 2009, an average of 709 pounds of recyclables were collected per home game at Duke, about .027 pounds per person who attended a game. Buchholz said Duke has set a goal of .15 pounds of recycling per person for the game against Miami, which means more than 5,000 pounds of materials will need to be recycled with a sell-out crowd of 33,941 fans.

Duke will weigh its trash and recycling at the recycling and waste reduction offices on Buchanan Boulevard or at a local landfill once everything is collected from the game.

In order to reach the recycling goal, Buchholz said that game day staff has been asked to be more vigilant about what they put into recycling bins and to encourage fans to follow suit. As with all football games, Facilities Management staff will be on hand to help direct the sorting of waste and recyclables.

Buchholz said that a common misconception about recycling unfinished bottled water is one of the things that has held back higher recycling totals. Even if there is still water in a bottle, it can still be put in a bin to be recycled, she said.

Volunteer students from Duke’s Environmental Alliance and Crazies Who Care and Durham’s North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics will also bring recycling bags to tailgaters around campus and will help sort out recyclables from vendors inside Wallace Wade Stadium.

Duke will have until Oct. 23 to report their waste and recycling numbers to the Environmental Protection Agency. Winners will be announced in November.

“This gives us an opportunity to push recycling efforts and do as much as we can to reduce the amount of waste that’s going into the landfill,” Buchholz said. “It’s going to be a Duke-wide effort, so we want fans to be as excited about this as much as the game.”