UNL second among Big Ten in 'Game Day' recycling challenge

More than 75 student and staff volunteers helped UNL recycle 6,880 pounds of waste after the Oct. 29 Michigan State football game.
More than 75 student and staff volunteers helped UNL recycle 6,880 pounds of waste after the Oct. 29 Michigan State football game.

After the mountains of waste were measured and reported, the Huskers finished second in the Big Ten Conference in two key categories of the Environmental Protection Agency's Game Day Challenge 2011, with 6,880 pounds of waste recycled.

The friendly competition among 69 universities nationwide measured the amount of waste from university stadium crowds and how much fans and volunteers diverted or minimized gameday trash by focusing on recycling.

UNL's gameday recycling event was Oct. 29 vs. Michigan State. On that day more than 75 student and staff volunteers participated in the recycling effort inside and outside Memorial Stadium. EPA released the results of the nationwide Game Day Challenge 2011 earlier this week.

UNL competed in four of five categories: Diversion Rate (recycled materials vs. garbage), Waste Minimization (measuring waste per person), Greenhouse Gas Reduction, and Total Recycling (figuring out the amount of materials recycled per person).

Among the seven schools in the Big Ten reporting their numbers and participating in the competition, UNL's total of 6,880 lbs. was ranked second in the Big Ten in Diversion Rate and in Waste Minimization. Out of 69 universities participating in the competition, UNL ranked eighth overall in Waste Minimization and 24th in Diversion Rate. Its Diversion Rate of 43 percent was an increase of nearly 18 percentage points over the 2010 Game Day Challenge totals.

UNL places recycling receptacles throughout the stadium that are accessible to fans, and individual recycling within and surround the stadium has been increasing, said Jeff Henson, UNL's co-recycling coordinator. Plastic water and soda bottles, aluminum cans (outside the stadium) and cardboard are the primary materials recycled.

Participation in the Game Day Challenge 2011 was led by the student group Sustain UNL as well as UNL's recycling coordinators, with support from the Athletic Department. Other key participants included Recycling Enterprises, UNL's Landscape Services, Department of Philosophy graduate students, Alpha Gamma Sigma, and the ASUN Sustainability Committee.

"We would like to participate in the Game Day Challenge again next year," Henson said. "A lot of the success is dependent on student leaderhip and their planning, recruiting and volunteering for the effort. If anyone is interested in helping next year they can certainly contact us and we're happy to start a list."

For more information about UNL Recycling services contact UNL's recycling coordinators Prabhakar Shrestha or Henson at 402-472-9139 or recycling@unl.edu. Henson said it's not too early to gather volunteers for next year's challenge.

— Kelly Bartling, University Communications