The biggest news in college sports in 2014-2015 will no doubt be the brand new 4-team playoff system at the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) level. Another story that merits significant attention is that the Zero-Waste Movement (i.e. diverting 90% or more of waste from landfill via recycling and composting) is gaining real traction at stadia and arenas across the country.  We take a look at 3 schools moving towards the Zero-Waste route this season: It’s not surprising college sports is taking a leadership role in hosting Zero-Waste sports events. Going Zero-Waste provides major collegiate athletics programs with:

  • A high-profile way to show key stakeholders that sustainability is an integral part of the university’s DNA.
  • Opportunities for idealistic, environmentally-active students to get directly involved at the grass roots level
  • Potential for new, green sponsorships and thus, incremental revenue.

Scarlet + Grey = Green Over 100,000 fans will cheer the Ohio State University Buckeyes on towards a possible National Championship this fall at each of 7 home games inside the Big Horseshoe in Columbus (your trusted correspondent will be there for the Rutgers-OSU contest on October 18!). For the 2nd straight season, the season will be Zero Waste (, as last year’s home games averaged a 90.5%+ diversion rate, with the high watermark being a 98.5% diversion rate vs. Wisconsin. If you take out the anomaly of a 56% diversion rate at the Iowa game (not all materials were able to be captured and sent to the recycling facility for recovery due to the Columbus Marathon), the 2013 average skyrockets to an otherworldly 97.28%. A big reason Ohio Stadium is the biggest stadium in the country to achieve zero waste is OSU’s partnership with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) (, which provides labor to help with the sorting and reporting on game days. ODRC and the OSU student-led green team helped produce the most impressive statistic of all at Ohio State: In 2010, before the Zero-Waste program was implemented, Buckeyes’ home games sent 59.8 tons of trash to landfill. In 2013, the number was down to 5.8 tons.   Consistency of visual clues throughout signage and bins contributes substantially to success of OSU’s ZeroWaste Effort   OSU ZeroWaste IconOSU ZeroWaste Bins OSU helps fans sort with school color clues   The Light-Footprint Stampede The University of Colorado started with Zero-Waste football games in 2008, a couple of years before Ohio State went the Zero-Waste route. Hey, it’s Boulder after all. To make it work smoothly at Folsom Field (capacity: 50,000) has taken real teamwork: Athletics, Centerplate (food concessionaire), Facilities Management, and the CU Environmental Center are the stars of Colorado’s Zero-Waste football games ( And it’s more than football–the men’s basketball team went Zero-Waste in 2014. In both cases, corporations see the positive branding value associated with Zero-Waste: White Wave Foods has been a Zero-Waste football sponsor and BASF ( got behind the Zero-Waste basketball program. This is a case of “making green ($) from going green.”

White Wave Foods Sponsor Ralphie's Green Stampede

White Wave Foods Sponsor Ralphie’s Green Stampede

Green as a ‘Gator Now, when you think of the Florida Gators, you likely think of Tim Tebow, The Swamp, Steve Spurrier’s visor and winning BCS national championships in football. Or, maybe you’re hoops oriented and you’re reminded of the great back-to-back NCAA men’s basketball championships in 2006-2007, featuring Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer). But you likely don’t think of Zero-Waste and Carbon-Neutrality (after all, Gainesville ain’t Boulder.) Well, you should. The Athletic Department (aka the University Athletic Association or UAA) ( is working with two sustainability-themed on campus organizations, Neutral Gator and Sustainable UF on some very audacious goals; namely to make the entire university Zero-Waste next year and carbon neutral by 2025!  That athletics is a focal point of this effort makes perfect sense as there is nothing bigger/more high profile at the Gainesville campus than the Gators. Gators football is leading the way towards attaining the university-wide Zero-Waste goal. Composting was introduced to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium ( last season. The Gator Green Team ( chipped in by increasing staff to assist fans and eliminate any contamination in the waste stream leaving the stadium. Diversion rates are expected to be close if not above the 90% threshold for Zero-Waste status this season. Neutral Gator ( is taking charge of the carbon-neutrality-by-2025 effort by funding and implementing carbon reduction projects local to the Gainesville area. Those projects generate carbon offsets (, which are then applied toward the carbon footprint of the Gators athletics season. Neutral Gator’s efforts have led to the country’s first carbon-neutral football season (2008) and first carbon-neutral athletics department (2009) in NCAA history. So maybe Gainesville Is The New Boulder? Nautral Gator bumpersticker UF Neutral Gator carbon_calculator

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