Gators best in SEC at watching their waste

July 15, 2015

Chalk up another SEC championship for the Gators. The University of Florida was recently recognized as a GameDay Recycling Challenge winner for its sustainability efforts during the 2014 football season, surpassing 10 other participating Southeastern Conference schools to claim the top spots in two of five categories: waste minimization and organics reduction.

Campuses representing more than 30 athletic conferences – including the ACC, PAC 12 and SEC – competed within their conference in five categories: waste minimization, greenhouse gas reduction, organics reduction and overall conference diversion rate.

Ninety-one schools participated in the 2014 GameDay Recycling Challenge, which aims to encourage sustainability in collegiate athletics while promoting waste reduction and recycling practices in football stadiums and tailgating areas. Collectively, participating schools in the 2014 Challenge recycled or reused 1,098 tons of bottles, cans, paper and other recyclables, eliminating 3,358 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere.

The UF Office of Sustainability and the University Athletic Association have approached waste reduction at the stadium through a multi-pronged approach including removing landfill bins from the stadium and only having recycling or composting bins. Additionally, most products sold at the concession stands have been replaced with versions that have recyclable or compostable packaging, said Liz Storn, program coordinator in the Office of Sustainability.

“We have also improved signage to clearly show fans how to properly dispose of their concessions, had volunteers in the stadium sort obvious contamination out of the bins, and worked with Waste Corporation of America, Watson C&D and Alachua County to sort our compost and recycling,” she said.

The Challenge was created through a partnership with the College and University Recycling Coalition, the Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise Program, Keep America Beautiful and RecycleMania, Inc.

The University of Florida was recognized alongside the other conference and national winners during the 2015 Collegiate Sports Sustainability Summit held in June at Purdue University.