Score One for Sustainability

Score One for Sustainability

EPA announces 2012 Game Day Challenge winners.

Another college football season has come and gone, yielding another notch in the Southeastern Conference’s belt. But there’s one place the mighty SEC was shut out: in the winners circle of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2012 Game Day Challenge, the friendly recycling competition among U.S. colleges and universities.

The goal of the Game Day Challenge is to increase recycling and composting at college football games. As part of the challenge, more than 75 schools across the nation collected cans and bottles, cardboard, food waste and more from the tailgate areas, stadium seating and concessions areas during at least one 2012 regular season home football game. Schools measured and reported their results along with game attendance to be ranked in five separate categories, the winners of the 2012 Game Day Challenge are:

  • Waste Minimization Champion (Least amount of waste generated per attendee): Earlham College, Richmond, Ind.
  • Diversion Rate Champion (Highest combined recycling and composting rate): Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
  • Greenhouse Gas Reduction Champion (Most greenhouse gas emissions prevented by diverting waste): Franklin College, Franklin, Ind.
  • Recycling Champion (Highest recycling rate per attendee): Franklin College, Franklin, Ind.
  • Organics Reduction Champion (Highest organics recovery rate per attendee): University of Nevada-Las Vegas

More than just a competition, Game Day Challenge is an opportunity for colleges and universities to demonstrate to students and team supporters that recycling and reducing waste are not activities limited to the home or office.

Many participating schools deployed teams of volunteers to collect cans and bottles from pre-game tailgaters. Other schools set up zero-waste stations inside the stadiums to collect food waste and more, or arranged for special recycling messages to be announced during the game. Still more schools used the opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness of America Recycles Day on Nov. 15.

“The Game Day Challenge was a big success at Auburn,” said Courtney Washburn, recycling coordinator at Auburn University, in an EPA press release. “It was a great way for us to raise awareness about waste reduction and recycling with the fans, and it also helped us to engage our athletics’ department about sustainability issues.”

Reducing waste generated at collegiate sporting events can save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. During this year’s competition, 5.4 million fans at 79 participating schools kept nearly 1.09 million pounds of game-day waste out of landfills, which prevented approximately 1,732 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released, according to EPA. That’s equivalent to removing over 8,800 passenger vehicles from the road for a year.

The 2012 Game Day Challenge was administered by the College & University Recycling Coalition (CURC), Keep America Beautiful (KAB) and RecycleMania, Inc., with support from the EPA.

For a list of participants, detailed results, rules and other information, visit

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