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Ohio Stadium improves recycling, compost efforts in 2012

Andrew Holleran / Photo editor

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In a stadium that plays host to more than 105,000 fans during Ohio State football games, preventing waste from going to the landfill is no easy task, but this year, the university took a step closer.
Zero waste is achieved when there is a 90 percent diversion rate to compost and recycling, and no game day was closer to achieving this goal than the Oct. 20 game against Purdue. About 94.4 percent of materials were diverted from the landfill to be composted or recycled.
Don Patko, OSU’s aassociate athletic director of facilities operations, said this was a joint effort between the OSU Athletic Department, OSU Sustainability, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and the Proteam Solutions Inc. Zero Waste Team Members.
The PSI Zero Waste Team Members are made up of high school students who stand by the bins at the game in order to educate attendees as they throw away their trash. If an attendee doesn’t get their trash in the right bin, the team members will take the trash out of the wrong bin and put it in the right one, Patko said.
PSI is just one way the university is educating fans on how to recycle and compost their trash.
Ohio Stadium and the sustainability team were given an internal $50,000 grant from the President and Provost Council on Sustainability to start the project to achieve zero waste, which was implemented in early May 2011.
“The grant gave us the seed money we needed to get started,” said Corey Hawkey, OSU’s sustainability coordinator.
This year, there has been a 140.6 percent increase in food diversion and 84.6 percent average diversion rate at Ohio Stadium through first six games of season. In 2011 the average diversion rate was 75.3 percent according to the OSU sustainability website.
“This year has been a lot more efficient,” Hawkey said. “It has boiled down to more efficiency, better understanding and switching products.”
The Purdue game was the biggest success so far. Six percent of materials were sent to the landfill, 43 percent of materials were recycled and 51 percent of materials were composted.
However, reaching zero waste doesn’t come without challenges.
“The biggest obstacle is and always will be educating the 105,000 fans,” Patko said.
Other obstacles include educating people in press box and club seating because they don’t have the bins, and making sure the materials are captured and recycled, Patko said.
If Ohio Stadium, one of the largest venues in the county, can achieve zero waste, students think that other stadiums can too.
“If Ohio Stadium can do it, it is possible for all other stadiums to do it,” said Ananya Amireddy, a second-year in computer science and engineering. “Everyone should try to become more sustainable.”
For the future, Patko said they can do better on the production side and have better recycle containers within the concession stands.
“We see this program as a foundation for the rest of Ohio State,” Hawkey said. “We want the whole campus to be 90 percent. This is just the beginning of the zero waste effort.”

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