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KNOXVILLE—Greenhouse gases, meet your match.

Last September through November, UT competed in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Game Day Recycling Challenge, finishing first in the greenhouse gas reduction category, and two other categories.

The Game Day Recycling Challenge is a friendly nationwide contest to determine which university can reduce the most waste during football game days.

In total, 79 universities and 5.4 million fans diverted 1.09 million pounds of waste from football games, preventing 1,732 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released.

The schools competed in five categories: recycling per capita, diversion rate (recycling percentage), greenhouse gas reduction per capita, organics reduction per capita, and waste minimization.

UT proved a strong competitor in the Southeastern Conference division. The university won the greenhouse gas reduction, organics reduction, and diversion rate categories. It finished second in recycling per capita and fifth in waste minimization.

Before, during, and after each game, UT Recycling and dozens of volunteers canvassed campus tailgating areas collecting glass bottles, plastics, and aluminum cans as well as food waste from Volunteer Village, Circle Park, Neyland Stadium skyboxes, and parking areas. They collected more than 13.3 tons of garbage for recycling from the Florida game.

Although UT’s performance continues to improve each year, Jay Price, UT environmental coordinator, still sees room for improvement.

“We continue to see people throw garbage in the trash instead of the recycling bins, so we will look for more ways to change behavior,” said Price.

UT’s game day food waste is composted at UT’s on-site composting facility, located across from the UT Medical Center. Glass, aluminum, plastics, paper, and cardboard collected by UT Recycling are taken to the Rock Tenn recycling facility in Knoxville. Leftover concession food is donated to local charities through Second Harvest Food Bank.

For a complete list of results, visit the EPA website.

For more information about recycling on campus, visit the UT Recycling website here.