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Zero Waste Pays Dividends

While serving as event manager for UC Davis Athletics, I was fortunate enough to be on staff the same time a new football stadium was opened…fresh for the 2007 football season. The new facility, compared to larger FBS football stadiums, lacked luxury items such as suites, giant video screens, creative variety in concession offerings, and even lights for night play. However, what it lacked in luxuries, Aggie Stadium made up for in one admirable policy…zero waste.

Zero waste practices, while in place at some college dining commons around the nation, are still nearly impossible to find in athletic facilities. Not to be confused with a standard recycling programs that handle plastic bottles and sometimes paper, zero waste, in this context, simply means that all products of the facility (from the concession stands to the restrooms) are either recyclable or compostable. In theory, if no outside “items” are allowed into the stadium, the standard trash dumpsters after a home football game will be empty. Food wrappers, cups, paper products sold or distributed are all recyclable and uneaten food and other specialty items (such as eating utensils made of potato or corn byproducts*) are compostable.

Zero waste programs were designed with one goal in mind: to have a smaller impact of the environment due to the disposal of garbage from an athletic event. However, as noted in the November 10th issue of the Sports Business Journal, like programs can also save facilities money on waste disposal. Although not a college facility, the Seattle Mariners have apparently saved over $40,000 in trash fees by implementing a more aggressive recycling program at Safeco Field.** With the incredible benefit to the environment and to the facility/universities involved, it is surprising that more schools are not catching on.

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January 6, 2009 Posted by | Facilities and Events, Football | | 2 Comments