Friday, December 13, 2013

Thanks to the efforts of the Iowa Recycling Team, 18.5 tons of recycling and compostable material were diverted from the landfill at Hawkeye football games this season.

Delta Tau Delta president Andrew Schreiner greets a fan at a recycling bin
Delta Tau Delta president Andrew Schreiner greets a fan who recycled a plastic bottle during the Iowa game against Northern Illinois. Photo by George McCrory

The team, composed of University of Iowa Athletics, the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, UI Facilities Management, and the UI Office of Sustainability, diverted 41 percent of the waste from the landfill through recycling and composting efforts this season. From more than seven games, 28,380 pounds of recycling and 9,017 pounds of food waste were composted.

The team's recycling plan involved work before, during, and after the games.

Pre-game, 25 Delta Tau Delta fraternity brothers staffed gold-top recycling containers at Kinnick's entrance gates. They cheered on fans who placed cans, bottles, paper, and other recyclables in the bins.

“The men of Delta Tau Delta at the University of Iowa considered game day recycling a top priority because it gives us the opportunity to work directly with a major aspect of the university, Hawkeye football," says Delta Tau Delta President Andrew Schreiner. "We love the interactions we have with the fans as they enter the gates and were excited to see the Hawkeyes take the field again."

During the game, ARAMARK and Iowa Memorial Union Catering staff collected food and kitchen waste in the concession stands and Press Box areas for composting. Fans also pitched in, putting recyclables in bins in the concourse areas.

During post-game stadium cleanup Sunday mornings, hundreds of City High and West High School students and parent booster club members sorted recyclable materials from collected waste. Waste Management trucks hauled the materials to a City Carton recycling facility.

The UI’s high score for waste diversion was earned at the opening game Aug. 31, when the Hawkeyes took on Northern Illinois. The UI recycled 12,040 pounds of material and composted 960 pounds of organics, achieving a 60 percent diversion rate. For complete results for each game, see the UI Game Day Recycling page.

With temperatures in the 90s during the early games, fans were allowed to take extra water in the stadium. But bottles containing water pose a safety risk at the City Carton recycling facility and are not easily recycled. This resulted in a drop in the diversion rate at later games in September, says UI recycling coordinator Eric Holthaus.

This was the second season the UI took part the Game Day Recycling Challenge, a friendly recycling competition among 88 U.S. colleges and universities. The UI did well in several categories, placing 11th in the waste minimization category and 24th in diversion rate. At the Western Michigan game, only .158 of a pound of waste was generated per fan. See complete Game Day Challenge results here.

Game day recycling is one way the UI is helping to achieve its 2020 Vision sustainability goal to divert 60 percent of waste from the landfill by 2020.