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U.Va. Recyclers Score in Game Day Challenge

The University of Virginia achieved its highest diversion rate yet in the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Game Day Challenge,” held in conjunction with the Cavaliers’ Oct.  26 football game against the Georgia Institute of Technology at Scott Stadium.

U.Va., which has participated in the competition for four years, topped all Atlantic Coast Conference schools in waste diversion, per capita recycling, greenhouse gas avoidance and composting. Overall, U.Va. came in No. 2 among 62 contestants nationally – behind Franklin College of Franklin, Ind. – for avoiding greenhouse gases.

The EPA uses a complex formula to determine the greenhouse gas reduction, including the emissions of transporting material to a landfill, greenhouse gas sequestration in compost and the emissions generated in making products from new raw materials.

Nationally, U.Va. ranked fifth in per-capita recycling out of 67 competitors, and No. 11 overall in composting among 29 contestants. 

“This shows that we are an organization that cares deeply about stewardship of our resources,” said Nina Morris, the sustainability coordinator at Facilities Management. “This is a value that translates to fans and staff and students.”

U.Va improved on its own record this year, diverting 67.5 percent of the waste stream, surpassing last year’s diversion of 49.2 percent. Last year, about 0.5 pounds per person were diverted, while this year, 1.12 pounds per person were channeled away from the landfill.

This year, composting was added to the waste diversion, with volunteers collecting waste from concession stands and stadium suites.

“We did a better job of collecting waste this year,” Morris said. “And we collected waste from the Pancakes for Parkinson fundraiser that was held on the Lawn before the game.”

Morris lauded the communication among the U.Va. Athletics Department, U.Va. Recycling, Aramark and University Programs Council. She also noted that more student volunteers signed up this year – 110 compared with around 80 last year – which she said allowed them to put more students on tailgate-party cleanup and compost collection inside the stadium.

“We had great support from the Athletics Department and composting from the concessions were very helpful,” Morris said.

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