Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Saturday's game to feature zero waste event at Crisler Arena

U-M students are taking action to make a ton of garbage disappear — no magic involved — as Crisler Arena hosts its first zero waste basketball game Saturday. From cups to uniforms, use of recyclable materials will be the No. 1 priority.


New uniforms

The men's and women's basketball teams are wearing technologically advanced uniforms made from 60 percent recycled materials.


Hosting a zero waste event means doing all that can be done to make sure as little waste as possible goes to the landfill. The Student Sustainability Initiative (SSI) is coordinating the event, which will take place during the 1 p.m. game against Harvard.

“After being approached by the SSI about doing a zero waste game, we felt that it would be a great opportunity to use an athletic event to help educate the community and our guests about the benefits of recycling and composting as well as bring an awareness to some of the other sustainability initiatives we have taken on campus,” says Shelly Fabrizio, director of operations and event management.

The SSI is a collaborative group of leaders in campus organizations, environmental groups, and student governments interested in making the university a more sustainable place.

“Our goal is to reduce the amount that people throw away, and helping the campus community become more aware of how much they use, how much they discard and how they might increase recycling and composting so they are sending less into landfills,” says Ryan Smith, an SSI member.

During the game, all cups, plates, forks, napkins and trays will be made of natural materials that can break down to eventually become nutrients in soil for agricultural applications.

For example, all of the cold drink cups and trays will be made of a corn-based material called polylactic acid that resembles clear plastic and can be fully composted.

Instead of trash barrels positioned along the concourse, two bins labeled “recycling” and “composting” will be placed at each waste station.

At each waste station, volunteers from student organizations across campus will educate patrons about the proper disposal of their refuse, as well as communicate the benefits of composting and recycling.

A typical game at Crisler Arena generates about 35 cubic yards (or about 1 ton) of trash, while only about 1 cubic yard of recyclable material is generated. 

“For the zero waste events into the future, we hope to reduce this amount of trash by up to 85 percent,” Smith adds.

The university will partner with the nearby Tuthill Farms and Composting to take the compostable waste. The farm has the capacity to take all sorts of food and compostable wastes and break them down into soil nutrients. Tuthill Farms presently works with the composting program at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

In addition to the recycling and composting stations at the game, the U-M men’s basketball team will unveil new uniforms made from 60 percent recycled materials. Designed and developed by adidas, the uniforms are 30 percent lighter and dry twice as fast as previous uniforms.