Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

Homecoming Kicks Off More than Great Football

Campus Promotes Sustainable Future with Gameday Recycling Challenge

gameday recycling challenge at memorial stadium

This year's University of Illinois Homecoming game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers is about more than Orange and Blue -- it is also about Green.

For the first time, various campus and community partners are working together to raise awareness and have a positive lasting impact at the inaugural Zero-Waste Football Game. Hundreds of volunteers from all over the Urbana-Champaign community will assist the thousands of spectators in reducing waste -- from the money spent sending materials to landfill to the volume of materials that impact our water, air and soil.

"As our students, staff, faculty, and alumni gather at Homecoming, this game is a fantastic opportunity to get everyone involved in making a difference. A recycling competition is a fun way for all to participate and in the end, know what they have accomplished." said Bart Bartels, sustainability outreach specialist for at ISTC, who is coordinating the effort. "This is our first step to move Illinois to the top of the recycling competition's leaderboard."

As our team takes the field and faces a fierce opponent, those involved in the Zero-Waste event face stiff competition from our Big 10 rivals, as this even is part of a National Competition divided up by conference and division. Last year, Ohio State won the Big Ten challenge by piling up only 10 points (diverting 90 percent of their waste for recycling or composing). Our Homecoming opponents, the Gophers, scored a 17 (an 83 percent diversion rate). "While we always want to beat our Big Ten opponents, this year also serves as a baseline. We will assess where we are and how to improve going forward," Bartels said.

Leading this cooperative initiative are ISTC, the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, the Waste Management and Recycling Department of Facilities & Services, and the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment. They hope to encourage more sustainable recycling practices across the community. Anyone who is interested in getting involved is welcome to join in the efforts. To volunteer for the event, sign up at: We are looking forward to having a large student involvement in order to make this event a success.

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

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