Coliseum Sets Sights On Zero Waste Game Days, Events

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum’s trash cans will be transformed into compost bins this football season, as the 90,000-seat facility attempts to achieve “zero waste” status in collaboration with USC’s Office of Sustainability. USC Trojan football fans will either recycle or compost their used water bottles, hot dog holders, plates and cups in all 117 Coliseum trash cans given new life as containers holding contents bound for the farm, not the landfill.

USC Coliseum

Industry standards define zero waste as diverting 90 percent or more of waste materials from the landfill or incinerator through recycling, composting or repurposing. The initiative builds on the university’s efforts to reduce the tons of waste produced each game day at the 92-year-old Coliseum, the ninth largest college football stadium.

“Today, we’re glad to support sustainability efforts like the zero waste initiative and the university’s Green Team certification program,” said USC Athletic Director Pat Haden. “Implementing environmentally responsible practices, which can be as simple as carpooling or using a refillable water bottle, on game day and throughout the year is the right thing to do.”

Food vendors will use compostable trays, pizza boxes, cutlery, cups and napkins, and food waste, which will be composted. It takes about three to four weeks for the items to decompose, after which it is sold as premium compost to Central Valley farms. When the Trojans open their 2015 football season against Arkansas State on Sept. 5, a communications effort including signs and social media will show fans which containers to use for what. Workers will sort through the compost bin contents to screen out inappropriate items such as aluminum foil and plastic corks.

“This is a critical first step for the Coliseum,” said Brian Grant, director of operations for the Coliseum. “We will learn a lot through this process but we are striving to merge the history that the facility has with progressive sustainability efforts. Making the Coliseum zero waste is our goal.”

Football fans are also encouraged to participate in the Tailgate Waste Diversion program, the goal of which is to increase recycling and composting by making it easier for fans. About 350 peer educators and volunteers help fans recycle by collecting aluminum cans, and glass and plastic bottles. Last season, fans and volunteers recycled nearly five tons of materials.

“The Coliseum’s zero waste initiative is a significant step forward in USC’s journey toward integrating sustainability into all facets of the university,” said Todd Dickey, senior vice president of administration. “Waste reduction is key to our success, and complements our efforts in water and energy conservation, greenhouse gas mitigation and education and research.”

USC’s Office of Sustainability was created in 2008 to implement sustainable practices on campus while developing innovative outreach and educational programs for the university and local community. Its activities are augmented by the university-wide Sustainability Steering Committee, comprised of students, faculty and staff working together on sustainability strategies and institutionalization.

“The USC Office of Sustainability is proud to work with the Coliseum to reduce waste and improve the environment,” said Halli Bovia, manager of the USC Sustainability Program. “Zero waste is the latest of several initiatives we have implemented for the betterment of the university, and for the greater community.”

USC has  been a member of the Green Sports Alliance since 2013, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring sports leagues, teams, venues, partners and millions of fans to embrace healthy, sustainable practices.

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has been USC’s home since it opened in 1923. The Coliseum is managed by USC under a long-term contract with the city, county and state, which own the facility.

Contact: Merrill Balassone at (213) 740-6156 or; or Emily Gersema at (213) 740-0252

Click here for FAQs about the Zero Waste program

Read the full press release from USC.

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San Diego Padres Pave The Way For Sustainable Food

It’s 7:30 a.m. on game day at Petco Park in downtown San Diego and the food trucks have just started rolling in.

As part of his daily routine, Petco Park executive chef Carlos Vargas awaits the fresh produce.

Duo Entrée: California Black Cod, Lemon Grass Beurre Blanc, Candied Baby Carrots, Lava Salt Prime Braise Kalbi Short Rib, Confit Cipollini Onions Truffle Risotto Purse

Duo Entrée:
California Black Cod, Lemon Grass Beurre Blanc, Candied Baby Carrots, Lava Salt
Prime Braise Kalbi Short Rib, Confit Cipollini Onions Truffle Risotto Purse

During home games, local growers like Suzie’s Farm and Melissa’s Produce, based out of Los Angeles, make daily deliveries of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Petco Park executive chef Carlos Vargas inspects a fresh bag of lettuce on a Melissa’s Farm produce truck, Aug. 17, 2015.

“See the quality of the raspberries that we have in here? It’s just unbelievable how good and sweet they are,” said Vargas after tasting one of the raspberries.

In late June, the San Diego Padres and concession partner Delaware North were recognized as“Champions of Game Day Food” in a joint report by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Green Sports Alliance.

The report named the Padres and Petco Park as one of the top locations for stadium eats in the country for their sustainability efforts and food quality.

Allen Hershkowitz, president for Green Sports Alliance, said the Padres are setting an example for other stadiums.

“The Padres are providing valuable lessons not only to professional sports venues throughout North America, but actually professional sports venues throughout the world,” Hershkowitz said.

More than 95 percent of the San Diego Padres concession stands and restaurants get their food from Southern California.


Read the full article from KPBS.

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Could we make tennis rackets out of atmospheric CO2? Science says yes


You know the old saying: “When life gives you atmospheric CO2, capture it, turn it into carbon fiber, and build cool stuff with it.” No? That’s OK — I just made it up, but let the record show that if this does become an old saying, you heard it here first.

The fibers in this microscope image are made of carbon, produced via a new method that also removes carbon dioxide from the air.

The fibers in this microscope image are made of carbon, produced via a new method that also removes carbon dioxide from the air.

Researchers at George Washington University have figured out a way to transform everyone’s favorite greenhouse gas into the super-strong and lightweight wonder material known as carbon fiber. As MIT Technology Review reports, carbon fiber (and especially carbon nanofiber) has become somewhat of a darling material among engineers, who are using it in all kinds of things: airplanes, cars, tennis rackets, wind turbines. Unfortunately, carbon fiber can be pretty expensive to make, which is why chemist Stuart Licht and his colleagues at GWU are actually killing two birds with one stone. Their technology both sucks CO2 out of the atmosphere and makes cheaper carbon fiber.

According to Technology Review, Licht and his team estimate that with their technology, the amount of atmospheric CO2 could return to pre-industrial levels within ten years — and that’s even if we don’t significantly slow our emissions in the interim. All they’d need is an area about 10 percent the size of the Sahara Desert in order to capture and convert enough CO2 — a process that involves dissolving the CO2 into molten carbonate.

Read the full article from Grist.

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