DURHAM, N.C. - Duke University’s gameday waste minimization efforts recently reached their peak with the first zero waste game day in Blue Devil athletics history with the Pittsburgh contest November 14. Duke became the first ACC program to achieve the zero waste feat, full 2015 results have not been finalized yet, and only the seventh nationally.
The zero waste encompassed the entire game day experience, including parking lots, exterior events areas, the pre-game concert that took place at Jack Coombs Field and interior of stadium.
The push for zero waste is part of the GameDay Recycling Challenge, a friendly competition for colleges and universities to promote waste reduction at their football games, implementing waste reduction programs during home games. Schools track and report waste reductions and disposal data that is used to rank the schools.
Duke joins Ohio State, Rutgers, Akron, Cal Davis, Colorado and UNLV as the only programs who have confirmed zero waste gamedays.
The Blue Devils showed continual progress throughout the season as the amount of waste diverted was raised each week during the final five home games. Fans helped decrease the total diverted from 2,660 pounds against Northwestern to 11,090 pounds versus Pittsburgh for the home finale. The total pounds per person diverted was lifted from 0.101 per person during the home opener against N.C. Central to 0.367 pounds per person against the Panthers.
In the last two years, Duke has composted more than 14,000 pounds and recycled more than 62,000 pounds during home events. The Blue Devils also posted four games with greater than a 45 percent diversion rate during the 2015 campaign.
Duke’s efforts to create a more eco-friendly waste management process on game day, entitled Zero Waste at Wallace Wade, began in 2013 with the athletic department teaming with Liza Schillo, a graduate student attending the Nicholas School for the Environment at Duke, Arwen Buchholz from Duke Sanitation and Recycling and Tavey Capps from Duke Sustainability. With Buchholz, Capps and Schillo’s assistance, a plan was formulated to help reduce the amount of waste generated by fans in Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium, with the initiative put into practice this past two football seasons.
Partnering with Duke Athletics on the ground to make zero waste a possibility were Duke Landscape Services and TROSA.