Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

Homecoming Kicks Off More than Great Football

Campus Promotes Sustainable Future with Gameday Recycling Challenge

volunteers in team photo on football field

The Fighting Illini and their fans cleaned up during the Homecoming football game against Minnesota Oct. 25. The team won and the crowd diverted 60 percent of the day's trash from landfills.

This first Gameday Recycling Challenge on campus was directed by Bart Bartels along with other ISTC staff and involved the teamwork of 44,000 fans, 150 volunteers, the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, Facilities & Services, the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment, and ISTC.

Recorded in metric tons the final score was: recycled 4*, composted 4.5*, and avoided carbon emissions 15. Later this year, the Illini will find out how they compared to recycling teams at other campuses nationwide.

Block-i student cheering section forms recycling logo with cardsThe idea of a zero-waste challenge in a stadium of more than 60,000 seats became a little more real when Tim Knox, director of football operations for the Fighting Illini, looked around Camp Rantoul, the team's summer training venue, and realized something was missing.

"When I saw the number of plastic bottles and other recyclables we were using at Camp Rantoul, I definitely saw a need for adding a way to separate them from the other trash that was being produced,” Knox said. “I worked with (ISTC's) Bart Bartels to add bins that separated the items that could be recycled, meaning less trash in the area landfills."

The success of the event was owed largely to the some 150 student and community voluteers who used the event to educate fans on recycling basics. Enthusiastic partners also seized the day to enable the green achievement -- the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, the Waste Management and Recycling Department of Facilities & Services, and the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment.

marching band forms recycling symbol on the fieldPerhaps the best ambassadors for recycling at the game were the Marching Illini band and the Block-I student cheering section which both formed the familiar recycling logos during halftime.

Nationwide, the Game Day Recycling Challenge is a partnership of the College and University Recycling Coalition (CURC), RecycleMania and Keep America Beautiful (KAB), and is supported by U.S. EPA's WasteWise program.

Also do your part as a fan by liking the Fighting Illini Gameday Recycling Challenge Facebook page:

For more information, contact Bart Bartels at

* 9,787 lbs. ** 8,790 lbs.

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