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Colorado selected as winner of Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge for 2018 football season

Arizona, Arizona State and Washington also recognized across 2018 football campaigns
SAN FRANCISCO – One of the core pillars of Pac-12 Team Green, the Conference today announced that the University of Colorado Boulder has been selected as the overall winner of the “Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge” for the 2018 football season. Also recognized as subcategory winners included the University of Arizona (most-improved), Arizona State University (best student-athlete engagement) and the University of Washington (best fan engagement). All four institutions will be recognized and honored during a special ceremony during the 2019 Pac-12 Sustainability Conference set for June 25-26 at the University of Washington.
“Sustainability is a very important key for us, something we take a great deal of pride in," said Rick George, athletic director at Colorado. "We want to be leaders in this area and we are certainly excited about being recognized in this way.”

The Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge is held annually during both football and basketball seasons. Each university selects one home football game and one home basketball game to compete and provide a platform for engaging on best practices in waste diversion. As part of the competition, each university submitted a scorecard describing the efforts around its Zero Waste game. Criteria is weighted as such: 25 percent participation and partnerships, 25 percent innovation credit and 50 percent stadium diversion rate.
A total of five judges selected one overall winner and one winner in three categories. The judging panel consisted of:
  • Bill Walton – Pac-12 representative, sustainability advocate & basketball legend
  • Mike Carey – LEED Expert & sustainability coordinator at Orange Coast College
  • Graham Oberly – Sustainability coordinator at Ohio State University
  • Cheryl Wong – Assistant commissioner, sports management & championships, Pac-12 Conference
More information on the Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge is available at  More information on the 2019 Pac-12 Sustainability Conference set for June 25-26 at the University of Washington is available at
Overall Winner – 2018 Football Season: Colorado (vs. Arizona State, Oct. 6, 2018)
  • Achieved 91.82% stadium diversion rate, including over 8,700 lbs in compost, over 3,900 lbs in bottles and cans and over 1,300 lbs to landfill.
  • The NCAA’s first Division I sustainable athletics program, “Ralphie’s Green Stampede” has seen Buffs athletics implement zero waste programs in all venues, zero net carbon emissions in all facilities, zero net water use practices in all facilities as well as a zero net-energy football practice facility.
  • In promotion of a circular economy, Colorado collects plastic bags from stadium activities and sends them to a recycler who then manufactures new 70% recycled content plastics bags, which the university then uses to collect tailgate recycling on gamedays.
  • As a zero-waste, zero-car and zero-glass organized tailgate, the “Franklin Field Tailgate” area of Colorado football games has become a platform for a high-diversion tailgate area with a zero-waste eco product package, complete with plates, napkins, cups and utensils.
Best Fan-Engagement: Washington (vs. Colorado, Oct. 20, 2018)
  • Achieved 87.67% stadium diversion rate, including over 8,100 lbs in compost, over 7,800 lbs in recycling and over 2,200 lbs to landfill.
  • During the second half of each game this season, Husky Stadium recognized a “Green Minute” where customer services team members walked through each section to collect recyclable materials while in-stadium announcements and video boards provided information on UW Athletics sustainability and zero waste efforts.
  • Volunteers staffed a sustainability info table as the team worked with Coca-Cola to introduce a bottle launch game, giving fans a fun, interactive point of engagement to around proper recycling practices, composting and general sustainability efforts.
  • The team utilized a plush Husky toy as a visual mascot named “Eco” as fans were encouraged to take selfies with to draw attention to informational posts.
Most-Improved: Arizona (vs. California, Oct. 6, 2018)
  • Achieved 45.71% stadium diversion rate, including over 10,000 lbs to landfill, over 7,600 lbs in recycling and over 800 lbs in compost.
  • Following their 2017 Zero Waste game which had a diversion rate of 20%, the Wildcats’ were able to increase their diversion rate in their 2018 game to 45.71% thanks to increased efforts with planning, preparation and education. Also, by working with various stakeholders and participating with the postgame cleanup process, Arizona was able to ensure that more material ended up in the correct waste systems.
Best Student-Athlete Engagement: Arizona State (vs. Utah, Nov. 3, 2018)
  • Achieved 80% stadium diversion rate, including over 7,700 lbs in recycling, over 7,200 lbs in compost and over 6,000 lbs to landfill.
  • Distributed and placed on the uniforms of over 350 Arizona State band members, spirit squad and cheerleaders for the game, Arizona State’s sustainability logo was seen by fans in attendance as well as at home via television appearances.
About the Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge
The Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge is one of the core pillars of Pac-12 Team Green, the sustainability platform launched in 2018 to promote sustainability efforts taking place on Pac-12 campuses and around the Conference. Each Pac-12 institution participates in the competition with the goal of determining which university diverted the most waste from the landfill at a select football and basketball game, as well as which used the most innovative methods to expand reach and impact of sustainability education efforts.
About the Pac-12 Conference
The Conference has a tradition as the “Conference of Champions,” leading the nation in NCAA Championships in 52 of the last 58 years, with 516 NCAA team titles overall. The Conference comprises 12 leading U.S. universities - the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the University of California, Berkeley, 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​
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