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Weekend edition January 19, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

‘Zero Waste Game Day’ efforts divert 184 tons of waste from landfill

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville 'Zero Waste' initiative diverted over 184 tons of waste from local landfills.

Football games at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), attract throngs of fans to campus to rally in support of the Vols. However, alongside this enthusiastic crowd comes a substantial consumption of food and beverages.

Throughout the 2023 football season, the  Zero Waste Game Day initiative, spearheaded by UT’s Office of Sustainability, successfully gathered 139,250 pounds of recyclables. They composted 11,000 pounds of food and contributed 37,580 pounds of food to local food banks. These efforts diverted more than 184 tons of waste away from local landfills.

The initiative’s goal is to keep at least 90 percent of waste produced at Neyland Stadium sporting events out of the landfill.

In order to achieve this goal, 58 students generously volunteered their time. Each game, they were stationed around Neyland Stadium to collect recyclables and keep a watchful eye over the bins inside and outside the stadium.

The 37,500 pound of food went to various local food banks, including Second Harvest Food Bank and the UT Culinary Institute.

This commendable initiative, conducted in collaboration with UT Athletics, Aramark, and Eastman’s “Good Sports Always Give Back” program, seamlessly blends fan experience, student leadership, and community engagement. Its ultimate goal is to foster a cleaner and more sustainable campus environment.

Those intrigued by the initiative and wishing to volunteer are encouraged to explore more about Zero Waste Game Day and other service opportunities offered by the Office of Sustainability through ServeUTK.

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