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Ohio State to lower waste with EPA Gameday Challenge

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Ohio State fans are asked to take their recycling efforts to the next level Saturday when the OSU football team takes on Indiana in Ohio Stadium.

OSU will be competing in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Game Day Challenge. The EPA Game Day Challenge is a recycling and compost competition with 90 other schools, including Michigan, Iowa, Ohio University, Indiana, Toledo and Akron. During the game, OSU will be competing for titles in five categories: waste generation, diversion rate, greenhouse gas reduction, recycling and organics reduction.

In order for schools to participate they must complete registration and choose one regular scheduled home game. After the particular game has been selected, the schools choose a plan and put it in place for the chosen game. OSU will be operating on the Zero Waste strategy implemented at the football game against Michigan State.

Corey Hawkey, the program coordinator for energy and sustainability, and his team have been working to update and improve the performance of the Zero Waste Plan.

“This weekend we will be working with waste management to capture food that gets in the wrong places,” Hawkey said. “The seats and the press boxes are areas where we struggle to get things right. Waste management is going to pull the food out into a pile. It’s not easy, but they want OSU to do the best we can for this game.”

The Indiana game was chosen as the selected game for the challenge because the competition is during October and November and the Zero Waste team wanted a noon game.

“We didn’t want to do an 8 p.m. game because we don’t sell as much as we normally do because people have already eaten dinner. We wanted a game at noon because it would be our standard generation of waste,” Hawkey said.

Other facts were considered when selecting the Indiana game.

“We also wanted to do a game a little later in the quarter so we had enough time to learn and improve.” Hawkey said.

In order to compete, the school is responsible for tracking and recording game attendance, the amount of waste generated and the amount of recycling completed. Results from the game must be reported to the EPA within a week following the selected game.

The waste generation title will be given to the school with the lowest waste generation per capita. The diversion rate category will be awarded to the school with the largest recycling rate overall, including compost, trash and recycling rate.

The greenhouse gas reduction title is given to the school with the largest greenhouse gas reduction. The school with the largest recycling rate wins the recycling title. Organics reduction is the last category that schools will the judged in, and the school with the largest organic reduction waste wins the title.

Any U.S. college or university can participate in the competition. According to the EPA’s website, the goals of the entire competition are to increase waste reduction awareness, increase university and college community participation, and lower the amount of waste generated at football games.

Last year OSU placed first for diversion rate, for D1-FBS schools. Hawkey said he thinks this year will be even better, but there is more competition.

“We will absolutely do better than we did last year; there is no doubt in my mind. But this year we also have more competition. The University of Colorado, Boulder has been using Zero Waste for four years now. And they put in a lot of extra work for their game,” Hawkey said.

It is a competition, but all of the participants are striving for the same goal.

“They are our biggest threat and biggest friend. It’s going to be a tight race and a tight match,” Hawkey said. “We’re really excited about it and we’ve gotten a lot of help and we’re doing a lot of things right.”

Hawkey thinks the biggest obstacle OSU will have to face in the competition is its size.

“We are at a disadvantage because of our sheer size, we are so large our per person capita seems less and that hurts us in certain divisions,” Hawkey said.

Students attending the game are urged to pay attention to the scarlet and gray signs by the recycling stations. Gray is for compost. If it looks like food or paper, compost it. Scarlet is for recycle. If it looks like plastic, recycle it.

Alexis Canto, a fourth-year in city and regional planning, said she thinks the competition is a good idea, as long as people participate.

“I think it’s awesome, there is such a huge amount of people at the games, and it would make a big impact if a school like OSU wins,” Cantu said. “The games are so wasteful. It will be effective as long as people actually do it and pay attention to where they are throwing things.”

Hawkey said the best thing students can do is inform others about what is going on.

Alex Wolf, a second-year in business, thinks that students need to be more aware about recycling and the competition.

“I think it’s a good idea, games are big events and that would get a lot of people to do it. I participate in every game, even the Miami game. We have thousands of people to help, and it would be a big contribution,” Wolf said. “I think they need to get the word out. I wouldn’t have known about the initiative or the competition until now. More people need to be aware.”

Hawkey said students can help each other in getting OSU Zero Waste a win.

“If you see someone do something right, thank them. If someone is doing something wrong, give them a friendly reminder of the right way,” Hawkey said.

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