Gator's Stadium Strives Toward Zero-Waste

By Kiara Beard on November 22, 2014

Captivating recycling cans is just one of the ways UF’s stadium is striving toward zero-waste.

University of Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is popularly thought of as humid, eventful, rowdy and crazy. The Swamp is where the renowned Florida Gators sweat, run, fall, dance and play football.

However, when you think about the Swamp, it’s probably not as popularly thought of as being sustainable.

UF’s entire campus exhibits sustainability, but its unique attribute is its push towards a zero-waste stadium. Allison Vitt, outreach and communications coordinator at UF’s Office of Sustainability said they’ve been enforcing green initiatives in and around the stadium since the office’s conception in 2006.

Tailgaters around campus may have witnessed Green Team members passing out blue recycle bags during Gator home games. They’re a volunteer organization that formed simultaneously with the opening of the Office of Sustainability.

Green Team members’ goal is to educate tailgaters about the impact recycling has in and around the stadium.

“It’s been a really successful program,” Vitt said. “We would love to have more volunteers every home game.”

In the stadium there are several recycling cans that are labeled with UF’s Sustainability logo. Different cans accommodate different waste materials that are later recycled or composted.

Joey Hoppes, 19-year-old chemistry junior, said he noticed all the recycling cans during the last home game.

“They were everywhere, which made them accessible,” he said. “I remember specifically recycling my water bottle on the walk out.”

If you’ve ever purchased something from a vendor inside the stadium, chances are it’s later going to be recycled or composted too. According to Vitt, the stadium reached a 78 percent diversion rate after last football season.

“We’ve really come along,” Vitt said. “It used to be a lot lower than that.”

UF has a partnership with the Watson C&D. They haul the stadium’s waste to their landfill site in Archer and it’s molded into reusable soil.

Summer Pliskow, 18-year-old theatre freshman, attends all the Gator home games. She wasn’t aware of the stadium’s initiative towards sustainability, but considers it to be a good thing.

“It’s important that we protect our environment and it’s great UF is taking part in that,” she said.

In addition to the recycling cans, a lot of signage is used throughout the stadium. Signs at nearly every gateway indicate which vendor materials are compostable and which are recyclable.

According to Vitt, more signage is an initiative that was recently adopted. The more signs that prevail throughout the stadium is just one way UF is trying to meet their zero-waste goal by 2015.

“We’re pushing towards having the first zero-waste stadium in the SEC,” Vitt said. “I’m really excited about anything that puts us first in the SEC,” she said laughing.

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