Game Day Recycling

When events attract a huge number of people to a concentrated area for an extended period of time, there will be a high volume of garbage generated. As an example, over 110,000 people show up at the University of Michigan’s home team football games, and a typical football game lasts between 3 and 5 hours. That means over 100,000 people will be eating, drinking and consuming various concessions which use plastic and paper products which are eventually tossed in a recycling bin around the stadium. In order to handle this type of influx of waste for specific day events, certain programs are put in place so no resources are wasted having the capability to recycle that much waste on days where the stadium will be closed, for example. This leads to sustainable event locations throughout the year or during off-seasons.

The Environmental Protection Agency has studied Game Day Recycling in order to better get an understanding for how to properly deal with these kinds of circumstances, maximizing efficiency and reducing the amount of waste sent off to landfills. They (the EPA) have even created the Game Day Challenge in order to reduce the total amount of waste, specifically targeting college football games. The challenge is in collaboration with WasteWise, a partnership program that helps participants meet their waste management goals in industrial or municipal waste reduction tasks. Every participating college campus is measured for an average amount of waste generated on a game day, then their goal is to figure out systems or methods to drastically reduce the amount of solid waste sent to landfill vs being recycled during a game day with similar occupancy. The data collected includes total amount of waste generated, how much of that is recyclable, and how many people were attending. All of the data is verified by the EPA and judged accordingly and a winner is announced once a year during the month of December.

Simple challenges like this not only provide an entertaining and friendly competitive environment for students and organizations to solve real-world problems, but they directly affect how we go about helping the environment for future projects. For example, some of the research findings from the Game Day Recycling studies may reveal a more efficient layout for concessions and recycling centers in the stadium which will lead to new stadiums being planned with the environment in mind. Studies and findings like this are how we progress as a people, and working towards keeping the environment free of garbage while reducing the amount of resources consumed via recycling are two major fields that should be focused on just as much as any other scientific advancement in the 21st century if we care to keep our way of life and not leave a trash-ridden, toxic environment for our future generations to live in.