The University Record, November 21, 1995

Stadium program recycles 1,800 pounds of cardboard

By Jeanne Carlson
Grounds and Waste Management

Along with the excitement and festivities accompanying U-M football games, the large amount of trash left behind is another highly visible part of game days in Ann Arbor. To combat this problem, the 1995 Michigan football season brought a new team to the stadium---a recycling team. Grounds and Waste Management Services, in conjunction with Michigan Stadium, have implemented a recycling program to help to decrease the amount of trash littering the Stadium and the amount of waste being landfilled after each game.

A pilot program for recycling cardboard was implemented during the last game of the 1994 season. The effort was quite successful and, according to Jane Reading-Boys, service foreman with Grounds and Waste Management Services, Leon Tweedy, stadium supervisor, "came to us after the pilot program and asked if we could continue the program next season."

The program now includes recycling cardboard, aluminum pizza tins, and cans and bottles. The cardboard is almost exclusively boxes used by the food and merchandise vendors to bring in their supplies for each game. Vendors empty and flatten the b oxes, and set them aside for collection. A team of recycling staff and volunteers circulate with rolling recycling carts during and after the game, collecting the cardboard and putting it in one of five blue recycling dumpsters around the stadium.

This 'behind-the-scenes' recycling effort has diverted an average of 1,800 pounds of cardboard---probably the largest single component of the waste stream---at each game this season. This represents an average of 12 percent of the total waste str eam at each game. The amount of cardboard collected at each game has grown steadily as more vendors are made aware of the recycling team's efforts. The recycling team hopes this trend will continue.

The program also includes collecting other recyclable materials that were identified as being generated in large quantities at the Stadium. A group of graduate students from the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) helped in this aspect of the program. They conducted a waste assessment as part of their research to determine additional activities that could be implemented todecrease the amount of waste generated at each game. This involved looking at what materials were most prominent in the trash after the games. The group identified pizza tins as being the largest waste stream (after cardboard) that could be recycled easily. Recycling barrels for pizza tins are located inside the stadiu m, near the pizza vendors.

The recycling team also is collecting aluminum cans and glass and plastic bottles. Recycling barrels for these materials are located near the gates. Since spectators are not allowed to bring these items into the stadium, they discard a large num ber of cans and bottles. Between 200 and 300 pounds of aluminum pizza tins, cans and bottles are collected at each game.

The SNRE students are researching ways to improve the efficiency of the recycling program to capture more material. This includes experimenting with different types of signs, placement of containers and other ways of publicizing the program. The group also is investigating ways to reduce portions of the waste stream that are not currently recyclable. A large portion of the waste stream is made up of plastic souvenir cups, and plastic and paper food packaging, which are not recyclable in Ann Arbor's program.