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USC selected as Pac-12 Zero Waste Competition winner

Jan 17, 2018

USC Selected Winner of Pac-12 Zero Waste Competition

USC was selected the overall winner of the Pac-12’s Zero Waste Competition, the Conference office announced today, and three other institutions were picked winners of subcategories. Each Pac-12 institution participates in the competition with the goal of determining which university diverted the most waste from the landfill at a selected football and men’s basketball game, as well as which used the most innovative methods to expand reach and impact of sustainability education efforts.

The Pac-12 Zero Waste Bowl provides a friendly reminder and spirited platform for Pac-12 universities to engage on best practices in athletics waste diversion and to learn how each campus strives towards zero waste goals. In addition to the overall waste diversion rate, the universities were scored on innovation, partnership and participation, and fan engagement.

Three judges selected one overall winner and one winner in three categories. The judging panel was:
Bill Walton, Pac-12 representative and sustainability enthusiast
Graham Oberly, Sustainability Coordinator at The Ohio State University
Mike Carey, Sustainability Coordinator at the Orange Coast College (Zero Waste/Diversion expert)

Each school submitted a summary scorecard describing their efforts around the Zero Waste game, and were judged based on that. The criteria was weighted in the following way: 25 percent participation and partnerships, 50 percent stadium diversion rate and 25 percent innovation credit.

2017 Football Zero Waste Competition Winner:  USC (Oct. 14, 2017 vs. Utah)
USC achieved a 90.96 percent game-day diversion. Fans were encouraged to participate through an interactive tailgate, giveaways, flash mobs, a live trumpet brigade, confetti cannons and dancing led by green game mascot "Recycle Man” that encouraged all fans to properly sort their food waste and recyclables into the proper receptacles, as well as educating them on forward sustainable behaviors.

Fan Engagement:  UTAH - RecycBike Brigade
Utah created “recycbikes,” cargo bikes with a large bin on the back to collect recyclables. Each week, the Sustainability Office signs up students to ride its six recycbikes to collect waste. In past years, the bikes were used only in the main tailgating lot. This year, the Sustainability Office created new routes that cover the majority of campus so that tailgaters farther from the stadium had access to recycling.

Most Improvement:  Stanford - Investment in increasing recycling receptacles and public education
In 2017 Stanford vastly expanded its tailgate recycling and composting initiatives which led to an overall increase in the average season-wide diversion rate for football games by adding 12 trios of dumpsters throughout tailgate areas (recycling, compost and landfill). It was the first time recycling and compost have been collected in tailgate areas with 100 trios of supplementary event bins distributed throughout the tailgate and stadium. In addition to using a compostable drink cup at concession stands, Stanford created additional signage, educational materials and volunteers to encourage Zero Waste participation.

Student-Athlete Engagement:  Colorado - Student-Athlete Video
Colorado created a video featuring student-athletes in collaboration with Ralphies' Green Stampede that encouraged support for the “Water for the West” pledge program. The judges felt allowing the student-athletes to use their voice and their platform to encourage participation was empowering and went beyond merely having them volunteer to work/collect recyclables. In addition, the Sustainable Snacks program was established with the vision of providing nutritious, minimally processed and environmentally responsible snacks. With a grant from the Sustainable CU Environmental Center, the Performance Nutrition Department was able to purchase commercial food dehydrators and nut grinders to create sustainable food products for student-athletes on game day.

About the Pac-12 Conference
The Conference has a tradition as the “Conference of Champions,” leading the nation in NCAA Championships in 51 of the last 57 years, with 504 NCAA team titles overall. The Conference comprises 12 leading U.S. universities - the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the University of California, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Colorado, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of Utah, the University of Washington and Washington State University. For more information on the Conference’s programs, member institutions, and Commissioner Larry Scott, go to