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Penn State University Researcher Helps Beaver Stadium & Other Sports Venues Reduce Waste

The University Network
By Susan Chu

2017.08.02-NewsFeed-Penn State-IMAGE

Penn State University’s Beaver Stadium, home to the Nittany Lions football team, is the second largest university stadium in the U.S. It hosts seven home games each year with attendance for each game reaching anywhere from 110,000 to 150,000. Imagine the waste generated in the stadium and the surrounding parking lots, which together occupy 110 acres of land! Fortunately, Judd Michael, professor of business management for natural resources industry at Penn State, has been helping Beaver Stadium reduce waste on game days. He is also using his expertise to help other sports venues, such as Pocono International Raceway and NASCAR Green, find “green” solutions.

The University Network (TUN) spoke with Michael about his efforts to make sports venues more environmentally friendly.

Zero Waste Showcase at Beaver Stadium

Michael’s efforts to reduce waste at Beaver Stadium started in 2013 when he partnered with Green Sports Alliance and NatureWorks to make the President’s and Governmental Affairs suites section of Beaver Stadium a zero waste showcase. The initiative resulted in 95 percent diversion of landfill waste at the first home game in 2013 and 100 percent diversion by the last game. Diversion in 2014 was also 100 percent at each game. If the same initiative were applied to the whole stadium, over 50 tons of waste would be diverted after each game.

Michael also collaborated with various departments at Penn State, including the President’s Office, Office of Donor Relations, Office of Governmental Affairs, Hospitality Services, Intercollegiate Athletics, and Office of Physical Plant, to make the initiative a success.

He relied on more than 30 Penn State students as his zero-waste ambassadors at each game to educate and engage fans on the zero-waste goals. “I have had multiple undergrad and graduate classes working on the campus zero waste projects,” Michael told TUN. “This has been good experience for the students and they have made a tangible impact on operations while gaining valuable skills.”

The initiative introduced the use of eco-friendly cups, utensils, plates, and straws from Ingeo. “Packaging and foodservice items were the first step in achieving our zero waste goals,” said Michael in a statement. “Having Ingeo’s ASTM-certified products allowed us to have confidence that the materials we collected would be compatible with our university composting system. We were also confident that the suites clientele would not be disappointed in the performance of the foodservice items provided by StalkMarket.”

Compostable materials from each game were taken to Penn State’s own composting facility and converted into mulch over time, so it could be used on campus or sold to others. “We are lucky to have our own state-of-the-art composting facility where we can test various materials and send compostables with a very small transportation footprint,” Michael said. He credits NatureWorks and PepsiCo for their contribution to the university’s composting efforts.

Read the full story here.

Guest Blog: Zero Waste Initiative at the IU Natatorium at IUPUI

2017 Environmental Innovator of the Year: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Office of Sustainability

Guest Blog by IUPUI

Photo: J.D. Gray

Photo: J.D. Gray

The Zero Waste Initiative at the IU Natatorium at IUPUI started with an email from the IU Natatorium staff to the IUPUI Office of Sustainability: “We would like discuss ideas to bring sustainability to the forefront of our customer’s minds [in the ProShop].  One idea was to was to get recycled or environmentally-friendly bags to take their purchases home.”  Upon meeting, the conversation quickly morphed from which bag type was best suited for the venue to how the IU Natatorium could work towards something bigger – zero waste.  The idea was initially met with some incredulity.  It seemed like a big change, and a bit risky, for the “fastest pool in the world.”

Despite the unknown that accompanies all change, the timing could not have been more perfect.  The Natatorium was undergoing a $20 million renovation, and there was an amazing sustainability story to tell.  Lighting upgrades to the facility would result in 43% less energy usage than prior to renovation.  The filtration system for the competition and diving pools were replaced, which would reduce water usage by 65% and filtration energy by 25%.  All traditional water fountains were to be replaced with water bottle filling stations that allow users to refill their reusable bottles.  All agreed that working towards zero waste seemed like a natural fit for a world-class pool, especially since the newly-renovated facility would debut at the 2016 Olympic Dive Trials from June 18-26.  With national television coverage, as well as fans and athletes from across the country, this event was a phenomenal platform for telling the IU Natatorium’s sustainability story.

Working with ten campus and community partners, the IUPUI Office of Sustainability galvanized efforts to make the Olympic Dive Trials the first zero waste athletic event in Indiana and the first zero waste Olympic event in the world. Operational changes in the facility included altering in-venue food and product offerings to minimize trash, an innovative re-design of the concessions menu to reflect end use of items purchased, installing new waste infrastructure and signage, altering back-of-house waste management processes, developing a communications and social media campaign in collaboration with USA Diving and the Olympics Local Organizing Committee, creating print material, and recruiting volunteers to assist with the effort.

Engagement programming included a waterway restoration project the day before the Dive Trials, attended by over 30 individuals. The fan engagement area – the “H2O Zone” – included opportunities for fans to learn about zero waste, play interactive games, and take zero waste selfies. Additionally, volunteers walked the facility during the event to engage with fans around topics of recycling and compost. As a result of these operational and engagement efforts, the IU Natatorium achieved its zero waste goal with a 93% waste diversion rate. Over 10,00 fans and athletes learned about and participated in the zero waste effort.

With 10 community partners involved – IUPUI Sustainability, IUPUI Food Services/Chartwells, IUPUI Campus Facility Services, IU Herron School of Art + Design, IU Natatorium, Indiana Sports Corp, USA Diving, Olympic Local Organizing Committee, Ray’s Trash, and GreenCycle of Indiana – the impact of this program was felt across the Indianapolis athletic community, as well as the Olympic community.

As a result of this program’s success, future athletic events hosted in Indianapolis are now considering sustainability early on in the process. The Zero Waste Initiative at the IU Natatorium is an exemplary example of the positive impact collaborative efforts can have on sustainability, and we are looking forward to working with our community to grow sustainability in athletics in Indianapolis in the future.

Guest Blog: Meet the Beaver Athletes Sustainability Team at Oregon State University

2017 Environmental Innovator of the Year: Oregon State University, Beaver Athletes Sustainability Team (BAST)

Guest Blog by Oregon State University, BAST

Benny Eco2Go

What started as a random idea amongst a group of student-athletes two years ago, turned into a club, and now is recognized nationally for innovation in sustainability. Meet the Beaver Athlete Sustainability Team (BAST), a roster of committed young men and women with the goal to make Oregon State Athletics cleaner, more efficient, less wasteful and sustainable.

“This idea literally came from a roundtable with student-athletes who wanted to build a club within our popular Everyday Champions program,” said Kimya Massey, OSU Senior Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development. “Their drive and commitment to a cause has created a team effort through OSU Athletics that has spread across campus.”

The BAST student-athlete leaders represent a cross section of sports: Jesikah Cavanaugh (swimming), Samantha Lewis (track and field), Marie Gülich (basketball), and Mimi Grosselius (rowing).

“These young men and women are a testament to the mentorship roles student-athletes have on a college campus,” said Scott Barnes, OSU Vice President/Director of Athletics.  “This is another example of how intercollegiate athletics plays such an important role on campuses and creates community leaders for a better future.”

BAST, in conjunction with Campus Recycling, spearheaded increased awareness of recycling best practices at all of OSU’s athletic facilities on event and non-event days. Examples include a composting initiative at the Beavers’ Sports Performance Table, increased light sensors throughout facilities, and the promotion of the use of reusable containers. BAST is also in the midst of a feasibility study for the installation of solar panels at arenas and stadiums.

The program has four components as highlighted by Massey:

  • WHO CAN PARTICIPATE?: All student-athletes who are interested in making the world a more sustainable place are encouraged to be a part of this team, with no prior experience needed. Student interests range from recycling, compost and food disposal, energy efficiency, waste removal, material science analysis, community project engagement, solar and hydroelectric power solutions and other energy efficient activities.
  • STRUCTURE AND PROCESS: The BAST team meets every two weeks and encourages all current members and new members to attend. The meetings consist of determining what projects are pending and which new projects the team will take on. There are also tactical discussions around marketing how projects positively impact athletics and the community. The BAST team will also always participate in Earth Day in April on campus.
  • COMMUNITY SERVICE ASPECTS: Beginning in 2017-18, there will be one community engagement project each quarter. The BAST team will collaborate with the local community to accomplish a sustainability project.
  • FUNDING IMPLICATIONS AND OPPORTUNITIES: Athletics provided a small budget this academic year to create events in Portland, Ore., and beyond with current and former student-athletes. The goal for additional funding for the upcoming academic year would provide two student-athletes the opportunity to attend sustainability conferences at the Green Sports Alliance and Pac-12 Conference, and develop additional community service initiatives.