Between the used cups, hot dog wrappers and empty water bottles, the waste generated at sporting events can pile up fast, evidenced by those overflowing garbage cans you may have seen on your way out.
It's a problem many leagues and stadiums have been trying to address, leading nearly two dozen professional teams to join the newly formed Green Sports Alliance. In a survey last year, 52 percent of NCAA sports departments said environmental initiatives were a high or very high priority, and as of today, that group also includes Ohio State University.
The latest player on the scene announced that it has tapped foodservice giant Sodexo to help divert Ohio Stadium's concession waste from landfills. Three games into the season, the partners have successfully recycled or composted nearly 60,000 pounds of waste.
Ohio Stadium's official goal aims to direct 90 percent of waste from landfills, and its early results put it squarely on track to get there. The first three games individually achieved diversion rates of 76 percent, 63 percent and 72 percent, respectively.
To put this in perspective, one game against Akron produced 17.2 tons of collected waste. Of that haul, 4.1 tons were sent to landfill, with the rest being recycled or composted, the two designated waste streams.
Launching the program required the training of more than 600 workers and employees. A grant from the President's and Provost's Council on Sustainability is funding the Zero Waste program, while Sodexo picked up the tab for the supplying more compostable and recyclable products.
Sodexo has worked with colleges and universities in the past to reduce waste. The company announced last year that it had slashed food waste at eight pilot campuses by 30 percent through data collection, tracking and monitoring. Sodexo also launched a campaign called "Stop Wasting Food" to get students to join its efforts. The company has its work cut out for it: Roughly 31 million tons of food waste eventually ends up in the nation's landfills.
Image CC licensed by Flickr user shaggyshoo.