Green Game at Auburn University to promote campus gameday recycling efforts

Published: September 26, 2016
Updated: October 17, 2017
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Football season and game days bring fans and excitement to Auburn University's campus, but they also generate a substantial amount of waste, much of which can be reduced or recycled.  In the 2015 football season alone, Auburn tailgates generated more than 330 tons of waste and recycled almost 30 tons of cardboard, aluminum and plastic. Auburn's Waste Reduction and Recycling Department is aiming to increase recycling and decrease waste for the 2016 football season.

Each game day, hundreds of additional recycling bins are placed around campus and inside Jordan-Hare Stadium, providing fans an easy way to recycle plastic bottles and aluminum cans. In addition, student volunteers pass out clear recycling bags in tailgate areas. Fans are also encouraged to recycle with the 'Get Caught Recycling' program, where one winner is caught recycling and receives recognition on the video board as well as a Gus Malzahn-signed football.

All of these efforts culminate on Oct. 1, with the Green Game. The Green Game is an opportunity to inform fans of Auburn Athletics' initiatives regarding sustainability and to put extra emphasis on tailgating fans' responsibility to do their part to keep campus clean, reduce waste and recycle.

Auburn only accepts plastic and aluminum recycling, not glass, and putting glass bottles in recycling bins hurts the recycling effort.

"Our recycler doesn't take glass. They take plastic or aluminum. Once glass gets in the stream, it messes up the equipment that sorts the aluminum and plastic. Once glass gets in, it breaks on the sorting floor, creates a hazard and makes the tonnage incorrect," explained Vic Walker, manager of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Department.

Auburn also competes in the GameDay Recycling Challenge, a nationwide competition among universities to reduce and recycle waste generated from football games, and aims to be the number one recycler in the Southeastern Conference.

While recycling is great, eliminating waste is the ultimate goal. "Ditch the disposables and use reusable items at your tailgate. That's a way you can prevent waste, which is really the first goal," said Joan Hicken, coordinator in the Waste Reduction and Recycling Department. "Recycling is wonderful and we absolutely advocate for people to recycle, but if they cannot create that waste in the first place it's a much better strategy."

Fans can eliminate waste and support Auburn Athletics, the Waste Reduction and Recycling Department and the Office of Sustainability's effort to make game days more sustainable through a few simple actions:

  • Swap disposable tailgate supplies for items that can be reused, such as tableware, cloth napkins and tablecloths.
  • Choose plastic and aluminum over glass and Styrofoam.
  • Recycle all aluminum and plastic.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle to the game and use refilling stations to fill it up.
  • Clean up tailgate areas after the game.

The Green Game will feature on-field recognition of the Spirit of Sustainability Award recipients, giveaways to promote recycling not only on game day, but also at the local, regional and state levels and a message on the video board to highlight Auburn Athletics' sustainability projects.