UT Recycling, which is part of Facilities Services, set a goal for the 2014 football season to divert at least 50 percent of the game day waste from landfills.
After the first two home games, the unit has met this goal by sending more than 50 percent of game-day waste to be processed for recycling and composting for the first time ever. More than thirty-five tons was captured for recycling and composting.
“My first football season here, in 2007, we recycled a total of eighteen tons from all seven games,” Recycling Manager Jay Price said. “This season we captured more than eighteen tons for recycling and composting from just the first game alone.”
Eventually, UT Recycling hopes to move Neyland Stadium entirely to Zero Waste—which means diverting at least 90 percent of waste from landfills.
“Fans are really getting into the Zero Waste game day efforts,” Price said. “We never captured more than 50 percent of our game-day waste for recycling until this year, and now we have done it for both of the first two home games this season.”
They did it by increasing their existing efforts as well as by adding additional recycling and composting initiatives in and around the stadium.
During the first two home games there were about 430 recycling containers on the concourse and another 200 on the terrace, club, and skybox levels. By this Saturday’s game against the University of Florida, UT Recycling plans to have 600 recycling containers in place on the concourses throughout the stadium.
All of these recycling containers are single-stream, meaning fans can recycle paper, plastic, aluminum, glass, cardboard, and steel cans all in one place.
“Really, any type of standard recyclable material will go into one container,” Price said.
“Collecting additional recyclables this way has worked out really well and we plan to continue it for each game,” Price said.
For the past twenty-one years, UT has sustained a tradition of one of the nation’s first and largest stadium recycling efforts—Good Sports Always Recycle—sponsored by Eastman Chemical Company, Waste Connections, and Food City.
Also assisting the effort is the addition of composting, as well as food donations. Approximately twenty concession stands in the stadium’s concourse area either compost or donate leftover food, and there are plans to increase these numbers as the season moves forward.
UT Recycling also works with ARAMARK to compost or donate leftover food from the skybox and club levels. All usable leftover food is donated to Second Harvest Food Bank.
Fans can join the composting efforts by using the bins at the Zero Waste Station located at Gate 21.
To further encourage recycling in the stadium, UT Recycling has launched its “Get Caught Green Handed” campaign. As part of the campaign, two fans at each home game who are seen recycling will receive a football signed by Butch Jones.
“The winners’ pictures will be shown on the video board in the stadium,” Price said. “I think it will get people really excited to recycle.”
The new recycling efforts continue after fans have left the stadium. Beginning this year, the cleaning crews separate waste left in the seating areas to be composted and recycled.
Price said that this initiative alone is creating the biggest change.
“Before this season, from the seating areas, we only collected cups and bottles for recycling,” he said. “It is just a simple change in the way that the cleaning crews operate.”
“We are gaining major victories toward Zero Waste this year due to the coordinated efforts of all the major players involved in making game days happen,” Price said. “This is a huge team effort and I am grateful to all of our partners.”
For more information visit recycle.utk.edu.
Brooke Krempa (865-974-7782, firstname.lastname@example.org)