For the second straight football season, the Pac-12 announced that the University of Colorado Boulder has been selected as the overall winner of the Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge for the 2019 football campaign.
Finishing in second place among the overall winner category was the University of Southern California (USC). Earning subcategory wins across the challenge were the University of California, Berkeley (most-improved), Oregon State University (best student-athlete engagement) and Stanford University (best fan engagement). All four institutions will be recognized and honored during a special ceremony at the 2020 Pac-12 Sustainability Conference set for June 23 and 24 at the University of Utah.
“This is a terrific honor that many here at the University of Colorado [CU] will take pride in,” said Rick George, athletic director at Colorado, in a statement. “We are proud to achieve this recognition from the conference for our sustainable efforts in and around Folsom Field. Sustainability has been and is a very important part of who we are at CU, and we will continue to collaborate on our campus and with our peers to continue to elevate our profile.”
As part of the competition, each university submitted a scorecard detailing the efforts around its Zero Waste game. Criteria is weighted as such: 25 percent participation and partnerships, 25 percent innovation credit and 50 percent stadium diversion rate.
The judging panel consisted of Bill Walton, Pac-12 representative; Mike Carey, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design expert and sustainability coordinator at Orange Coast College; Graham Oberly, sustainability coordinator at The Ohio State University; and Cheryl Wong, assistant commissioner of sports management and championships for the Pac-12 Conference.
Here are the 2019 winners:
Overall Winner: Colorado—For Colorado, all home games are Zero Waste games as the university established the NCAA’s first Division I sustainable athletics program with “Ralphie’s Green Stampede.” The program has seen Buffs athletics implement zero waste programs in all venues, zero net water use practices in all facilities and a zero net energy football practice facility. For the game selected on November 9, 2019, versus Stanford, the Buffs achieved an 86.33 percent stadium diversion rate, including more than 9,000 pounds in compost, more than 3,500 pounds in bottles and cans and more than 2,300 pounds in landfill. The CU athletics department partnered with Ball Corp. this season to feature the global introduction of recyclable aluminum cups at football games in place of single-use plastic cups.
Overall Winner, Runner-Up: 2019 Football Season: USC—For the Trojans’ Zero Waste game, the staff brought on 36 eco-ambassadors who provided event waste sorting guidance, raised awareness on sustainable practices and answered questions from fans. In addition, USC President Carol Folt recorded a special video message ahead of the game to highlight the university’s sustainability efforts and importance of those efforts across the entire institution. The Trojans finished runner-up in the overall winner category thanks to those efforts along with dramatic improvements in its diversion rate.
Best Fan-Engagement: 2019 Football Season: Stanford—For Stanford’s Zero Waste game, the Cardinal staff activated in a number of ways, including pregame email newsletters to all season-ticket holders and students, providing information on GoStanford.com and handing out special tailgate kits, sponsored by TQM, to all fans driving to the game as they parked. Stanford also offered a rewards program for best practices in sustainability with the “My Cardinal Green” program, allowing users and members of the Stanford community to earn points and cash incentives for performing sustainable actions. Points were available for actions around gameday, such as sorting waste correctly or by volunteering to assist in sustainable practices.
Most Improved: 2019 Football Season: California—As the overall winner of the Zero Waste Challenge for the 2018-19 basketball season, California earned the most-improved award for the 2019 football season primarily by increasing the diversion rate of the Zero Waste football game from 68 percent in 2018 to 85.9 percent in 2019. With alcohol now being served for games at Memorial Stadium this season, the Cal Zero Waste team coordinated with the events and operations crew of the stadium to ensure all alcohol was served in certified compostable cups. The Cal Zero Waste team and Cal Athletics were also recognized this season by Bank of the West with its “Changemaker” award for enhancing sustainability on campus. On behalf of this award, Bank of the West provided blankets to select fans throughout the stadium. These reusable blankets incorporated 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic in the shell and insulation.
Best Student-Athlete Engagement: 2019 Football Season: Oregon State—Oregon State’s student-athlete sustainability program, Beaver Athletics Sustainability Team (BAST), was founded by student-athletes on campus. The sustainability team identifies strategies and new initiatives surrounding sustainability, eco-awareness and improving the environment. For its Zero Waste game, the BAST team engaged fans in the parking lots prior to kickoff and spread awareness about proper recycling opportunities before and during the game. Oregon State also improved the effectiveness of its recycling collection at the stadium gates by purchasing 140 standalone recycling and trash bins, prior to the 2019 season. The increase in bins also provided for more visible and consistent reminders for proper recycling opportunities.