Massachusetts Daily Collegian

EPA Game Day Challenge aims to clean up McGuirk Stadium

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The University of Massachusetts will participate in the next EPA Game Day Recycling Challenge – a national competition for colleges to reduce waste at their home football games – Wednesday night at McGuirk Stadium.

It cost UMass about $28,000 to clean up over 22,000 pounds of waste on the ground after the Homecoming tailgate on Sept. 27, posing a prime opportunity for improvement.

“At that point, it was pretty evident that there was a need to do something about this,” said Jordan Chan, secretary of sustainability for the Student Government Association and Waste and Recycling Fellow at Sustainable UMass. “We don’t have any official targets for waste reduction, but our perspective is that any bit of waste we can prevent from ending up on the ground and the landfill will be a step in the right direction.”

During the challenge, colleges and universities implement waste reduction programs with the goal of reaching 90 percent waste diversion from landfills. Schools track and report waste collection and reduction, which is then used in a national ranking.

“In order to track our waste diversion, we will have a scale set up at the tent to weigh the recyclables to report to the EPA Game Day Challenge,” Chan said. “We have also been given the opportunity to give updates about the recyclables we’ve collected throughout the tailgate during halftime and through social media.”

Student volunteers will canvas Wednesday’s tailgate in golf carts equipped with recycling bins and trash bags, in order to reach the EPA’s goal. Schools that divert 90 percent of their waste from landfills will be added to the Game Day Challenge “Zero Waste Wall of Fame.” Only six schools in the nation have ever earned wall of fame recognition. Diversion between 70 and 90 percent earns a school
“Green Zone” recognition.

Volunteers will also interact with students at the tailgate and encourage them to recycle, giving maroon and white glow-in-the-dark wristbands for those who do. Volunteers will receive limited edition UMass football t-shirts, a $10 food voucher for inside or outside the stadium and will also be entered in a raffle for five $100 gift cards to local businesses.

The last time UMass participated in the challenge was in 2011, focusing primarily on organic and compostable waste. UMass ranked fourth in the nation for largest per-capita organic waste reduction during that year. This year, Sustainable UMass will focus on recyclables after seeing that most of the waste from the tailgate this year was recyclable.

Last year, as part of the fifth year of the challenge, 88 colleges and universities diverted 1.5 million pounds of waste from landfills. The amount of energy and resources they saved is equivalent to removing 413 cars from the road for one year.

Sustainable UMass is still looking for volunteers to help in the challenge on Wednesday. To sign up, students can visit the Facebook Event Page “EPA Game Day Recycling Challenge” and add themselves to the list of volunteers on the Google Document.

Bringing the challenge to UMass was a coordinated effort between Sustainable UMass, the Student Government Association, the Eco-Rep program, University Relations, the Athletics Department and the Physical Plant. Coincidentally, the day UMass will be participating in the challenge will be on America Recycles Day.

Some of UMass’s competitors, like the University of Colorado and the University of Akron, have made the “Zero Waste Wall of Fame” in past years.

“We are not there yet, but someday we can be,” Chan said. “It’s definitely a goal to keep in mind for future years, particularly with the LEED certified stadium, it would be a great way to demonstrate the University’s commitment to sustainability.”

Sarah Robertson can be reached at [email protected]

1 Comment

One Response to “EPA Game Day Challenge aims to clean up McGuirk Stadium”

  1. Faye on September 6th, 2015 11:26 am

    Action is indeed far better than plan. This is a very terrific event. I am following your sites to have myself updated with whatever events related to waste reduction you would have. I am extremely interested to join.

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