Gameday Recycling Scores a Touchdown

By Alyssa Bennett GR ’20

This fall, the Office of Sustainability teamed up with Athletics to compete in UMaine’s first ever Recyclemania Gameday Challenge. For the Gameday Challenge, colleges and universities compete to see who can recycle the most waste at a home football game. The Office of Sustainability enlisted the help of Green Campus Initiative, Green Team, and the Sustainability and Environmental Action Division, creating a zero-waste team to collect, sort, and weigh waste from the stadium and tailgating lots.

The zero-waste team in front of the recycling compactor truck
Photo by Karina Graeter

The Gameday Challenge took place on Saturday, Oct. 12th, when committed Black Bear fans filled the tailgating lots for the home football game. The skies were cloudy, and it was a cold misty day, but that did not stop fans from crowding around their grills and fire pits to show their early morning support for our football team. As tailgaters threw burgers on the grill and plugged in their crockpots, the zero-waste team walked through the lots to chat with fans and tell them about the Gameday Challenge. The zero-waste team also passed out plastic bags and asked fans to donate their returnables. All acceptable empty bottles and cans were donated to the Black Bear Exchange (BBE), the on-campus food pantry and thrift store.

A zero-waste team member posing in front of the Alfond Stadium field
Photo by Erin Gilmore

After the game, the zero-waste team collected all of the trash and recycling throughout the stadium and tailgating lots. Team members recorded the weights of the materials and collected the donated empty bottles and cans. One member of Green Team stated “The group of us were working like a well oiled machine weighing bags and putting them on the truck.” In total 293 pounds of recycling was collected at the game, with a diversion rate of 32.46% and 0.057 lbs of recycling per person.

While we weren’t able to separate out compostables from the waste stream, all of the waste from the game was taken to Coastal Resources of Maine, an advanced waste processing facility. At Coastal Resources, organics are extracted from the waste stream and converted to biogas. Check out the Office of Sustainability Website to learn more about zero-sort recycling at UMaine.