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UC Davis Takes 1st Place in National Football Game Day Recycling Competition

Release Date: 02/08/2011
Contact Information: Media Contacts:  Mary Simms, (415) 947-4270, simms.mary@epa.gov or Yoshiko Hill, (415) 947-4308, hill.yoshiko@epa.gov

More than 6,000 UC Davis football fans generated nearly 900 pounds of trash, only 90 pounds of which went to a landfill

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will present UC Davis with an award for their impressive efforts to reduce waste during this year’s Aggies’ football season.  The Northern California university took home first prize for achieving the highest waste diversion rate in the country as part of EPA’s 2010 Game Day Challenge, a national competition for colleges and universities to promote waste reduction at their football games.

The Aggies’ blew away their competitors by achieving a nearly 90% diversion of waste to recycling and composting, 20% higher than the second place university, Ohio State University.  Their high mark was achieved during the October 23, 2010 home game when nearly all the waste generated by the crowd of 6,835 on hand was composted or recycled.  The amount of waste sent to a landfill – only 90 pounds!  

“We applaud UC Davis as the first university in the country to set a goal of operating a zero-waste stadium,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest.  “The team colors may be Aggie blue and gold, but, by reducing their stadium’s environmental footprint, they are also very green.”

The Aggies opened their new stadium in 2007. Key to their success in approaching their zero waste goal has been a commitment by their concessionaire to only sell items that come in recyclable or compostable packaging.  For example, only candy in paper boxes is sold, and beverages are served in compostable cups, including a compostable straw.  Student monitors provide assistance to fans to help them place their waste in the correct containers.

During the EPA’s National Game Day Challenge 77 participating schools targeted more than 2.8 million fans at football games. The schools together diverted more than 500,000 pounds of waste from landfills, which prevented the release of nearly 940 metric tons of carbon dioxide. This is equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 179 cars.

Participating schools tracked the amount of recycled, composted, reused, donated, and disposed of waste during one home football game. Winners were determined based on the amount of waste that was diverted from the landfill in relation to the amount of generated waste and the number of people at the game.

The EPA will present the award to UC Davis at their Plan Green conference on Wednesday, February 16, 2011.  The conference is part of UC Davis’ ongoing efforts to advance sustainability practices at the University.

The greening of stadium operations is a growing trend across the country.  Annually, approximately 48 million people attend college football games and another 17 million attend professional football games.  These 65 million fans can generate a lot of waste, at least 19,500 tons every year.

San Francisco stadiums have been among the leaders in greening major league sporting events.  In 2009, the San Francisco 49er’s achieved an 81% recycling rate while the Giants achieved a 75% rate.  Their success diverting waste to recycling and composting is part of the City of San Francisco’s overall efforts to achieve a zero waste goal by 2020.  

With more than 106 million people who watched this year’s Super Bowl from home, the best opportunity to reduce waste is in our homes and in our cities and towns.  Of all the leftover chili, barbecue, chips, and 7-layer dip at Super Bowl parties across the country, only 2.5% is composted.  The rest of this food waste makes up 21% of all waste going to municipal landfills. Only one out every two aluminum cans is recycled.  The energy from recycling just one aluminum can will power a TV for 3 hours, enough time to watch the game.  By taking a few small steps to recycle cans and compost our leftover food, fans can reduce the environmental footprint of our sporting events.

For more information on the winners, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/partnerships/wastewise/challenge/gameday/results.htm

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